Devotional Thoughts: Everlasting Love

Everlasting love, it’s the kind that settles your heart and is only found in God. Without it we search high and low but come up short every time. With this love nothing else matters much. This love changes us. We are never the same. It’s inexplicable. It’s warm. It sustains in the midst of chaos. It gives us the ability to see into another world. This Love pursues. This Love protects and guides. It’s the greatest anyone can ever imagine yet mankind runs from it. When we are loved like this it reveals all shortcomings, sin and brokenness within us and that’s just more easily avoided than faced. Only the brave stand and face God. The weak run away. The courageous reach out and become free through this love. It’s lavish. It’s strong. It never waivers. How foolish to reject God’s love for us.

Devotional Thoughts: Superpowers!

Do justice while being kind and humble? Has anyone ever seen this? I see lots of people thinking they’re fighting for justice but not with humility and kindness. This says to DO justice, not to fight for it. There’s a difference.

This means I make things right that I have the ability to make right. I cannot change everything but I have the opportunity to affect the small space I occupy in the world. I can volunteer in my community to make something better. I cannot help everyone but I can help the one that’s right before me.

Our help doesn’t always turn out the way we’d like. Living like this, doing justice, loving kindness and walking in humility with God puts God on display in our lives for others to see. These things seem mysterious to those who do not know God. It peaks their interest and when this happens we have the opportunity to make a mark on eternity by sharing the Gospel message.

Doing justice with an ego only produces an argument. It separates and divides. We have the opportunity to walk humbly and to show kindness as we live out what God has called us to do. Living in these things has the power to change the world. We are only able to achieve them when we walk with God. I can only be kind and humble if I walk with God. It’s another irony. True power comes in kindness and humility! It’s our superpower!

Devotional Thoughts: True Love

If we do not know who God is we cannot be imitators of God. I’d even go as far to say that if we do not know God we do not know love. We only know something that falls very short of true love like some grand emotion our culture calls love that isn’t love at all. Some are even addicted to this rush of emotions when they meet someone new. They are mistaken. This is not love. Love is commitment. Love is sacrifice. These are not fun rushes of emotions.

Others mistake sex for love. Sex is not love. Those seeking sex before marriage seek to satisfy themselves. This is not love. This is selfishness, the opposite of love.

Jesus Christ shows us what true love is. This love cannot be understood by someone who hasn’t surrendered their life to God. All other things we call love in our culture fall short of this true love, sacrificial love, the kind that cannot even be explained. To the one who doesn’t know God this probably sounds like you’re setting yourself up to be taken advantage of: “giving yourself up as a sacrifice.” As a follower of God, as one who seeks to walk in God’s ways sacrifice actually brings joy.

To know God is to know love. Without this relationship we cannot walk in love or be an imitator of God. All other attempts at love will fail and fall short of this great love God has intended for us.

Devotional Thoughts: Community, Friends & Brothers

This little verse is tucked away in Proverbs 17 in the midst of fools, strife, quarrels and evil. What a comfort in the midst of these things to have a friend and a brother to walk with us throughout all times and especially those times that we would call adversity.

There is a lot to learn and Proverbs is full of wisdom. I’ve heard it said that everyone needs at least five people they can confide in when difficult times arise. I can count many more than this; I know I’m blessed.

In our individualistic culture we do not understand how important community is. Listening to our Armenia mission team share about their experience in Christian community last night I’m reminded we are the culture that leans farthest towards individualism and it’s killing us. The more time we spend with screens the lonelier we feel. God created us to live in community with one another. This takes effort to accomplish. We must choose people over things. A friend who loves at all times and a brother that sticks by us at all times is extremely valuable. God and people should come before anything else.

Adversity will come. Am I a friend at all times? Am I a sister in the midst of adversity? We need God and we need each other.

Prayers: The Spirit

Lord, I thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit! Without You, Spirit, I’d be so lost. I’d be at a loss for words sometimes and as this verse in Romans points out, having a loss for words is okay because You stand in that gap where pain so deep resides.

Where I’m weak, You’re so strong! Today I ask You to intercede for me in the areas I’m even unaware of. Pray for what You know I need. Incline me towards all things that are of You. Bend me, mold me, point me in the direction You have laid out for me.

Holy Spirit I pray for You to pay a holy visit, the kind only You can, to those enduring so much suffering they are groaning today. Comfort like only You can. Pour out Your love on each one. May they know You, the Great One, are near.

In Jesus name I pray, Amen

Devotional Thoughts: Persecution

This verse is spoken in regards to persecution. Sadly, we know persecution for faith in our time period. Christians around the world experience persecution in ways we do not know on American soil. God is against evil and sin. The one who walks in righteousness gains God’s attention and protection. There’s evil all around but God will prevail! God hears the prayers of his people. To become one of God’s people all you need to do is turn to God, confess sin and repent. God will walk with you. This is so much better than being in the hands of evil. Here’s the context of this verse:

9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For

“Whoever desires to love life

and see good days,

let him keep his tongue from evil

and his lips from speaking deceit;

11 let him turn away from evil and do good;

let him seek peace and pursue it.

12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,

and his ears are open to their prayer.

But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,

Those who endure persecution receive a blessing the rest of us do not know. In China being jailed for your faith is considered a seminary experience. Suffering draws us near to God. There are so many unknown warriors in our army of faith. They need our prayers and advocacy. I recommend learning about Voice of the Martyrs, a non-profit that stands with the persecuted and tells these stories at persecution.com. Anyone hindering the work of God in anyone’s life is doing the work of evil.

Devotional Thoughts: Cleansing

This is a vital prayer for the survival of every Christian. Our faith began in the very moment we humbled ourselves, confessed our sins, repented and gave our lives over to God. I find myself having to pray this kind of prayer often just as this psalmist did. I have a wrong attitude frequently and have a great need to ask for God to cleanse me and give me God’s attitude.

As I grow older I’ve become more and more aware that our culture sees this as weakness. Here’s another one of those ironies because we know in moments likes these we gain strength. It’s the warrior who can apologize and make things right with God and other people. The weak pretend they weren’t in the wrong and do everything they can to protect or cover themselves. While this strategy may work for a time here on earth God sees. It’s imperative we confess our sins. If we to not practice this Christian discipline we yield to the sins of pride and selfishness disregarding God and others.

Asking God to sanitize me prevents spiritual illness from overtaking my soul. It helps me become who I’m meant to be. If I allow sin to preside I miss out on pure joy. Sin hinders, wounds and eventually destroys. God will not bless our sin. God desires to bless us and great blessings come from prayers and actions like these. What will we decide today? Will we tarry on in our sin? Will we confess and be healed? Right spirits within us can only be formed with God’s hands.

Devotional Thoughts: Freedom

Freedom, it’s the celebration of independence here today in the United States. Freedom brings free will here on earth in ways that are beautiful but in other ways that are dangerous. The follower of Jesus does not abuse freedom like the one who chases after evil things does. We do not have to look very far to find abuses of freedom.

This verse in Galatians isn’t talking about the kind of freedom we celebrate today, but the freedom I have in Christ from sin. There’s no freedom greater than this kind! This verse precedes two powerful verses:

“14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.”

Freedom in Jesus Christ changes us and gives us a desire to love others, even the unlovable. This freedom propels us to serve God and one another, to value every human being regardless of any differences we can fathom or name. If we do not do this we are in danger of devouring and consuming one another. We are so divided and this grieves God. Thinking I’m more important than another goes against God’s principles. We can only live today as God wills us to and that is the most radical lifestyle one can choose!

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was fueled by his Christian Faith, not political activism. Most politicians aren’t willing to lay down and die for a political agenda, but those who serve God stand for more than a political agenda. We are to be God’s representatives on this earth. This is not something we take lightly. We should not take this for granted! What am I doing with my freedom? Am I loving my neighbor as myself?

Devotional Thoughts: Beauty & Worry

Do not worry my friend! God takes good care of His people. In a time of such uncertainty there’s a lot to worry about. This verse is nestled inside of the Sermon on the Mount. Before this verse we are told to give to the needy, taught how to pray in The Lord’s Prayer, spoken to about fasting and we are then instructed to not store up treasures on earth but in Heaven.

So much hooplah these days about how we look and what we wear. We are not our bodies! The part of me that will last forever is the soul. My body is temporary, so why would I spend time and money getting Botox, face lifts and lyposuction? This temple will DIE. My body is just a temporary home. Time is best spent on heavenly things. What are these heavenly things? Living out our faith to the best of our ability and choosing obedience. When we do this we do heavenly things. We make a mark on eternity looking different than if we hadn’t stepped out in faith and obeyed.

In Heaven I won’t need Botox! My body will be perfect. It won’t have any faults. We don’t know anything without fault here in this life. There’s not even anything to compare this to. We do from time to time talk about someone’s inner beauty. I’d certainly rather be known for inner beauty than outward beauty. There are many people our culture so considers beautiful they are even worshiped. Some of these, if we met them, would probably be ugly inside. True beauty only comes from God. If we want to be beautiful we need to repent of our sin and turn and follow God. God changes the heart and soul; we do not.

Young ladies, do not let media images shame you. If you belong to God you have an eternal beauty that is second to none! Don’t listen to the evil voices of this world tell you. Listen to that soft, still, powerful voice of God and you’ll have a beauty people won’t even understand.

So, don’t worry about what’s for dinner! We aren’t and greater or lesser if we just have a PB&J sandwich at home or if we dine in a lavish restaurant. There’s a large banqueting Table we are invited to, it’s just not time yet.

My beauty is the same whether I’m wearing something I bought in a thrift store or whether I’m wearing the finest linens. As a teen I was quickly cured of my name brand loyalty when I accepted Christ. My identity wasn’t tied up in a brand name everyone else was wearing. I didn’t feel that need to fit in so much anymore. I fit in the most important heavenly space and that’s what mattered most to me. This felt like freedom, like coming out of a place of bondage that enslaved me as a teen who was trying to fit in everywhere. I remember being one way with a certain group and another way in another place. I wasn’t happy with myself. Just giving my life over to God freed me from so much! Everyone who’s waited to do this tells me they really regret they didn’t do it sooner once they’ve arrived on the other side. Come on over! There’s sweetness here! There’s freedom in your soul like you’ve never imagined!

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