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: 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: Love and Sin

www.bible.com/111/1pe.4.8.niv

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8

What a beautiful thing. Our love for one another can cover our sins that divide us . I believe this verse is referring to the relationships we have with one another. The verse that comes before this one, verse seven, says, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.” Verse nine then says, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

I’ve learned that I cannot genuinely love some people without God’s help. Some people have hurt me, offended me and it doesn’t come naturally to love them. I cannot do this without God. Only God can change my heart. Yes, sometimes we need to pray and ask God to help us love someone. Love is doing what’s best for that person, not what’s best for me. Love apologizes. Love sacrifices and eventually love heals.

I don’t think it’s coincidence that verse seven, the verse that preceded this one tells us to be self-controlled. Self control will keep us from sin. It also commands us to be sober-minded. There’s a lot of terrible things that can happen when I’m not sober. I can neglect my children and something bad can happen to them. I can hurt myself and someone else when I’m not sober-minded. Clear mindedness is the best place to be where I’m well-aware of my words and my actions towards others. The sober-minded sin less.

I think the point of this verse today is that we have all hurt someone and we’ve all been hurt as well. Love heals what our sins have done to one another. If I choose to love I choose to do the hard thing that sometimes feels very unnatural. Our minds tell us to place ourselves above others but this isn’t the way of our Lord. We are to love, even when it’s hard. Verse nine tells us we are not to even grumble about loving or showing hospitality to others.

Love, the kind that comes from God can stay the course, finish the race and even bring others into the Kingdom. What sins are we aware of today in our relationships with our fellow believers? Choose to love them today. If we don’t know what to do we need to give that to God and ask for guidance, commit to obey and keep walking.

Devotional Thoughts: Love

“What is Love?” she asked me. “I don’t know what love is,” she said. Some have been so mistreated they don’t even know love. She saw my love for my cats and said I have a big love for them. Little did she know I love her too. No matter how much I can love her with my imperfections I know my love is lacking but I also know God loves her so much more.

Love is a verb that requires action. There’s many actions here in this famous love passage that’s quoted over and over in wedding after wedding. Have you lived a life lacking love? Love is defined for us here. Living out these things isn’t easy. I struggle with patience. Sometimes I keep a record of wrongs because I’m hurt.

Love isn’t just words. Love is the actions that accompany what’s said. Love doesn’t envy when a colleague advances. Love celebrates and can take a back seat. If you’ve been dishonored, disrespected or someone’s been rude, this wasn’t love.

No matter where we are we find ourselves around people. We can love or not. I can measure myself by these ancient words that speak into my life. Love doesn’t place myself first. Love doesn’t boast; we all know that person that inflates stories and always has to tell one more amazing than the one that was just told. As if anyone is impressed? Who are we fooling? Probably ourselves!

Love can reign supreme if we let go live by these descriptions or elements of love. Life can be deeply fulfilling. This comes as we love others. When we love them they can see God.

Devotional Thoughts: Jesus ‘ Ethics, Peacemaking

This verse comes as a part of the Sermon on the Mount. Teaching on the top of a mountain was significant. God revealed vital things to Moses on a mountain top. The Sermon on the Mount teaches us the ethics of Jesus. Jesus teaches us what His people are like while seated high on a mountain As this verse indicates, God’s people are to be peacemakers, not those who seek to stir up dissension.

There’s an entire peacemaking movement evolving in our time. Believers are bravely crossing over lines society has drawn to make peace so those hurt can see God. Peacemakers set themselves and their own desires aside and make peace for the greater good. The greater good is not a what I want but what will best reflect the Kingdom of God. Those who do this are recognized as God’s children.

I’ve heard people say, “We’re all God’s children.” No, we’re not all God’s children. Yes, God crested each and every one of us and loves us all the same but God’s children are those who give up their own way of living to follow God. God’s children are those who have been transformed by God and even have a God-granted desire to live by Jesus ‘ high ethical standards.

This small verse says so much! It teaches us when we live as a peacemaker we are blessed. Other translations use the word happy. Lots of happiness seeking in the world today in many directions. I’m blessed when I obey God and seek to be a peacemaker. Peacemakers value all people involved. Peacemakers listen. Peacemakers love. Peacemakers forgive and extend the olive branch.

While there’s still sin there will never be peace so we have to work hard at this. Here’s one way to accomplish this from Isaiah 26:3 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” The fight is in our minds. Keep our minds on God and we can have peace. When disunity swirls all around me I self evaluate and see if there is any sin in me. If so I confess and repent so I can have peace. If not I at least have peace of mind that I’ve not sinned. I can then work on cultivating peace among others.

Pastors should be good examples of peacemakers, however this is an emotionally draining work. We call this putting out fires. There’s nothing fun about seeing someone’s sin hurt someone else and helping to clean up a mess. We cannot clean up anything really but we can just encourage others to apologize and forgive. I think we’re all aware that forgiveness doesn’t mean that relationship will be the same. God is the only true redeemer.

Peacemakers do not sin in their anger. This makes matters worse. Let’s ask God where we can be bearers of peace today. Maybe that means I need to extend an apology. Maybe this means I stop combatting someone and seek to listen to and understand them. Maybe this means I cross over a societal boundary and make friends with someone who appears to be an enemy. Humans aren’t the Enemy. The enemy seeks division, destruction and death. God gives harmony, love and peace. We can be good representatives of God without denying ourselves and choosing to live by the ethics of Jesus as taught here in The Sermon on the Mount.

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