Invincible

November 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Elaine James –

During a weekend retreat recently, I asked some teens to rewrite ‘Victorious Christian Living’ in their own words. They chose two phrases: ‘Truthful living’ and ‘staying closer to God.’

I quoted this verse: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3 NIV).

Next I asked them to rephrase ‘Divine Power,’ and they came up with ‘a strength that is unexplainable.’

Look at these words that they identified as keeping them from such ‘Devine Power:’ loneliness, discouragement, worry, anger, worthlessness, unforgiveness, procrastination, doubt, fear, guilt, temptation, resentment, failure, jealousy, lack of confession, and lack of prayer.

Which of these words are keeping you from truthful living and receiving God’s ‘strength that is unexplainable?’

One of the teens shared a personal struggle with unforgiveness in a relationship. When she decided to forgive, she said “I realized that this is a key to life and when I realized how important it is to forgive, I felt invincible.” Another girl admitted to a lack of confession and prayer.

I had a simple outline for the weekend, but it became evident that God was filling in the lesson with more detail from our discussions. One more verse was added to the lesson “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10 NIV). We agreed that going to the cross with a humble heart brought an incredible promise from God that “He will lift you up.”

We recounted the story of Jonah and the fish. We found that Jonah’s word was “fear” and because he had fear, he did not experience “Victorious Christian Living.” When Jonah was in the belly of the fish, he finally humbled himself, acknowledged God’s divine power, confessed and prayed. Once God instructed the fish to vomit Jonah onto land, he felt “invincible” enough to do what God had asked Him to do in the first place.

Our final conclusion was that if you choose to humble yourself, pray for divine power and live out the three key spiritual disciplines (forgiveness, confession, prayer), you can be “invincible.”

My prayer is that you choose the word or words that are keeping you from being invincible with God. Remember that becoming unconquerable is not an overnight task. It requires time and effort.

PRAYER: The pressure in life sometimes is too much. At times I want to run, like Jonah. Help me to remember the past and how You have rescued me. Thank You for the promise to never leave me.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (ROMANS 8:38-39).

Holiness: A Saturated Heart

November 25, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Carin LeRoy –

Hudson Taylor, a missionary to China in the mid-late 1800s, is known for the impact that he made in reaching the Chinese people with the gospel. He is considered one of the greatest missionaries. As we look at his zeal to reach people in a cross-cultural context, we see some of the decisions that gave him the ability to have great influence on a culture that mistrusted a foreigner. Although he received much criticism from the missionary community, he began to dress in traditional clothing, wear his hair in the customary queue (or braid), and learn the culture and customs. He learned the language so well that when speaking, others could not tell he was a foreigner. This gave him great ability to mingle and move around to share the gospel. He immersed himself in the culture in order to look, speak and act like the Chinese.

As we continue to look at holiness in the life of the believer, another aspect that marks a holy life is knowing and obeying God’s word. As Christians, we need to be so saturated in God’s word that we intuitively understand its application to life’s situations. In doing so, our lives become so sensitive to the Holy Spirit that we know the right choice. In Scripture we read, “I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against you…I rejoice in following Your statues as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways. I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your word” (Psalm 119: 11, 14-16 NET).

Knowledge and obedience go together as we seek to follow God. Not only do we know what His word says about behavior, lifestyle choices and attitudes, but we obey it. Holiness means we have a heart that is saturated with God’s word in order to look, speak and act like He desires. We understand God’s desires and act upon that knowledge. Because we are immersed in His word, we develop a sensitivity to the Lord and a strength that makes it easier to obey. Just as Hudson Taylor immersed himself in Chinese culture to be identified with them, we need to endeavor to be identified solely with Christ. Let’s learn what it means to have a heart that is saturated with the knowledge of God’s word and a willingness to obey it.

PRAYER: Lord, give me a desire to be saturated in Your word so that I learn what it means to live a life of holiness. Help me to abide in Your word, respond with sensitivity to Your Holy Spirit, and strive to live a life of obedience.

QUOTE: “It is time for us Christians, to face up to our responsibility for holiness. Too often we say we are “defeated” by this or that sin. No, we are not defeated; we are simply disobedient. It might be well if we stopped using the terms victory and defeat to describe our progress in holiness. Rather we should use the terms obedience and disobedience” (Jerry Bridges).

Advisers

November 23, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Rosemary Flaaten –

Who gives you advice? For many of us, when someone gives us unsolicited advice we bristle and the relational walls go up. Generally, we don’t like to be told what to do. .

However, the book of Proverbs, which offers much advice on how to avoid being a fool and how to live wisely instead, gives us a picture of the wisdom of counsel. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22 (NIV).

Andy Stanley, in his video series “The Best Question Ever,” states that a wise person knows when she does not know and is not afraid to ask for advice. Being cognisant of our inabilities is a critical piece of emotional intelligence. If we ignore our weaknesses, assuming or pretending to be competent or all- knowing, we will end up sitting in the chair of the fool instead of at the podium of the wise.

Although we must surround ourselves by people we can trust, knowing they have our best interests at heart, we must be careful to not limit ourselves to only those in our inner circle. At times wise counsel may come from unlikely sources. A new hire at work may be able to see a hole in the business plan to which the old guard is blind. Your mother may not have the same level of formal education but she may have wisdom earned through the school of hard knocks. A friend of a friend of a friend may be the person who can help you through a struggle. A homeless person can teach us about generosity and kindness.

Going it alone is a dangerous pattern. Independence, by definition, is the freedom from the control, influence, support or aid of others. That may sound appealing but biblical wisdom would tell us that two is better than one and that a cord of three is not quickly broken. A wise person will be open, even seeking the advice of others and realizing that it can come from unlikely sources.

Are you going to be wise and open to advice or foolish and live as a proud independent?

PRAYER: Lord, give me discernment and humility to hear truth when it is spoken. .

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 12 NIV).

Katelyn’s Cross

November 22, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Family

By Susan Dollyhigh –

Instead of her usual style of bouncing, running, or skipping, six=year-old Katelyn walked into the house after church with her head lowered and forehead furrowed.

“What’s wrong, Katelyn?” I asked.

She looked up at me. The frown remained.

“My teacher told me something sad. Let me show you.”

She placed a white sheet of paper and a box of markers on the coffee table, got down on her knees, and went to work. I squinted, confused as Katelyn pulled a brown marker from the box.

“Don’t watch, Nana. I’ll show you when I’m finished.”

“Okay,” I said, and went into the kitchen to prepare lunch. Within a few minutes, Katelyn appeared.

“Here, Nana. This is what’s wrong.” She handed me her drawing; a yellow sun in one corner, grass sprouted from the bottom of the page, and a big brown cross reached to the sky. Scrawled in childish handwriting were these words: “Jesus died here. So sad.”

I looked at Katelyn and our eyes met. “He died, Nana. Jesus died on the cross, and I am sad. Does that make you sad, too?” She tried to choke back the sadness.

My precious granddaughter had learned what Jesus endured to be our Savior, and the awful truth broke her sweet heart.

“Oh Katelyn, yes, it makes me sad, but I need to tell you the rest of the story. Jesus died on the cross because He loves us so much. He died on the cross for you and for me and for everyone in the world so that we can be forgiven when we sin, or do something bad. Jesus died so that someday we can go to Heaven and live forever with all the people we love. And do you want to know the best part of the story, Katelyn? Jesus came back to life – did you know that? God raised Him from the dead and took Him to Heaven where He still lives today. We can talk to Him anytime we want by praying.”

“Oh,” she said. The sorrow melted from her face. “That’s good, Nana. Okay, I’m going to play.”

Katelyn heard the news, and joy returned to her heart. She bounced down the hallway to her room, all the while singing, “Jesus loves me, this I know….”

Katelyn’s reaction to hearing that Jesus died on the cross caused my heart to ache, and I experienced anew the sorrow of my Savior’s torturous death. But then I remembered the rest of the story, and like Katelyn, joy flooded my soul.

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus – for the rest of the story.

“The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay” (Matthew 28:5-6 NIV).

Hungry for Something Chocolate

November 19, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Humorous

By Jarrod Spencer –

On occasion, my schedule will allow me to take my four-year-old to work with me for a couple of hours. These occasions will generally be in the morning before lunch during weeks which I am ahead of schedule. During one of those “ahead of schedule” weeks, I was completing my preparation for a new sermon series by placing a compilation consisting of 30 pieces of paper, tiled to make one big picture, on the wall in the auditorium.

While I worked, I set up a movie for my son to watch in one of the classrooms at our church. During that time, he made several trips to my office to tell me about something that just happened, to play with something in my office, or just ask for some M&Ms I have on my desk.

It was nearing lunch time and he came to me in the auditorium. He asked for some M&Ms. But nearing lunchtime, I said “no.”

He responded, “I really want some, I’m hungry for something chocolate.”

His sincerity and vocabulary made me laugh.

Upon reflection, I considered that when we are hungry for or craving something, we know it will really hit the spot to eat that item. Maybe it is food or something you drink. Either way, we simply anticipate the moment that we receive it so that moment can be savored.

That same day, we were expecting our new “single cup coffee maker.” It was a name-brand and I could not wait to try the coffee. Once I did, it really lived up to its branding, and I looked forward to the next cup.

The same is true for God. When we experience special moments with Him, we crave similar moments. We look forward to the next encounter. As my son had experienced the good taste of chocolate and wanted more, so we should want more of God once we experience Him and His goodness.

PRAYER: Father, thank You for being so tasty that I simply crave You. You are an amazing God and please use me to Your glory as I continue to look forward to our next encounter to help people know more about You.

“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:8 NIV)

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