Taking a Risk

January 17, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Cynthia Ruchti –

I know to grab the box of tissues before I watch certain movies. I cried during a recent dinner-and-a-movie date with my husband and wiped my tears with my popcorn napkin. My peripheral vision caught Bill lifting his glasses to wipe his own eyes.

Some passages of the Bible should come with a “grab the tissues” warning. When King David’s child died. When the paralytic took his first steps because his desperate-to-help friends clawed a hole in the roof and lowered him to Jesus. When Jesus called out to His Father in a loud voice, “Into your hands I commit my spirit!”

Among the others that bring me to tears because of the sweep of sadness, the remorse, the poignancy, or the love displayed is the scene when Jesus healed the woman with the twelve-year bleeding problem.

How alone and ostracized she must have felt in a society that treated problems such as hers like leprosy! Shunned from social functions; banned from the temple; exhausted by her disease and by the unimaginable and unsuccessful treatments thrust on her by physicians, quacks, and the well-meaning but uninformed; anemic; pathetic; friendless; and drained by the financial burden that stole the rest of her energies…

The woman defined the concept of utter desperation.

Crushed by it all, she must have been crawling along the ground to have reached out and touched not the shoulder or the waistband but the hem of Jesus’ garment. She was instantly healed.

This is the part that pierces me with its beauty. Jesus turned and called her “Daughter.”

I picture Jesus reaching down to lift her from where she’d fallen, cupping her face in His hands, and commending her for taking the risk of trusting Him to heal her.

Where are my tissues?

AUTHOR QUOTE: Is Jesus asking you to take a risk in trusting Him for something only He can do for you? Stretch out your hand.

“Jesus said, ‘Daughter, you took a risk trusting me, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed’” (Luke 8:48 MSG).

Holiness: A Clean Heart

January 5, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Carin LeRoy –

When I have company visit my home, I do my best to clean to make sure that things are dusted, scrubbed and picked up. I wouldn’t want them to think that I’m a dirty housekeeper, so I want to present my home the best I can when they arrive at my door. If guests are staying for the night, I give them washed sheets on their bed and a fresh towel. After all, would we give our visitors dirty bed sheets and a used towel? Of course not.

This brings us to another aspect of what it means to live a holy life. Just as we want our homes to be presentable and clean when guests arrive, we should also want our hearts and lives to be clean before God. We strive to confess our sins and keep our lives free from sinful habits. As Dr. Robert D. Luginbill says, “It is still possible for our feet to pick up a bit of dirt as we walk about in the devil’s world. God has given us the status of ‘holy people,’ but we are still imperfect and capable of sin.” It’s important that we don’t look lightly at our personal behavior and the sin patterns that crop up in our lives. Not only do we confess them before God, but we repent. Confession brings forgiveness, but repentance means we turn away from those sins by not allowing them to become a habit in our lives (Acts 3: 19,20).

“Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me” (Psalm 51: 10 NLT).

David recognized his sinfulness and asked God to create something new within his heart. He knew he was helpless on his own, and it would take God’s power within him to live a holy life. He desired to honor God but saw the weakness in his own soul. We all fail, like David, and have sins that haunt us. Yet God still desires for His children to live a life set apart and holy. God sees our hearts. Are we confessing our failures and repenting of the sins that grip us? If not, then let’s strive to learn like David what it means to have a clean heart before God.

PRAYER: Lord, create within me a clean heart. Give me a steady and loyal spirit that follows after You. Help me to repent from the sins that desire to take hold of my life.

“I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you; I will take the initiative and you will obey my statutes and carefully observe my regulations” (Ezekiel 36:26 NET).

Am I Cain?

December 14, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Art Fulks –

In the popular movie, ‘Remember the Titans’, a girl recognized that the relational struggles of our culture were as old as that of Cain and Abel in the first century. How about our struggles in relationship to our God? Have they changed? Have the issues really changed?

In Genesis 4 we read the story of Cain and Abel, each coming to worship, bringing offerings with them. Both came to worship the right God the right way, with the fruits of their work as an offering.

But God only accepted Abel’s offering. For most of my life, I thought it was because he offered an animal. That may be true. But the Hebrew text does not necessarily validate this, and the formal requirement of a blood sacrifice had not yet been given. So why did God accept only one of their offerings?

If both came to worship the right God in the right way, what was missing? The answer may be partly found in Hebrew 11:4, which describes Abel as bringing his offering in faith.

But how did Cain bring his offering? Genesis 4:5-15 gives us insight. When confronted that there was something wrong with his offering, Cain responded in pride with anger, resistence, and hostility toward God. That hostility turned into jealousy and violence toward Abel.

Many of us come to worship the right God. Some of us even come the right way, bringing an offering of the fruit of our labors. But how are our hearts? How is my heart? If we accept that sanctification (becoming more holy) is a process for the believer, then we must know that coming into God’s presence and hearing His Word will consistently confront our sin. But how will we respond?

Our response reveals the condition of our heart. God knows we are not sinless, so His expectation is not that we worship in our perfection. But He does expect us to come with a humble spirit revealing a right heart that desires to be molded into His image for His glory.

The lesson I am learning is how to better evaluate my heart in worship. My heart may be best judged in my attitudes toward others in my family and church. I have found that I can be just like Cain. When I resist God, it is reflected in my words. It is a sure sign of my heart.

So now, my new question each week is: “Am I Cain?”

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).

The Welcome Mat

November 16, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Cheri Cowell –

Hospitality is big business today. Businesses even hire outside firms to help them offer better hospitality. These experts look at everything from the colors of the walls to the scents in the air. They train people on the best practices and explain that it is often the little things that say, “You are important here.”

God felt the same way about His temple.

It was to be God’s welcome mat to the whole world. Through it and the people He chose to oversee it, all the nations of the earth were to be welcomed into God’s presence. Isaiah had recorded God’s hospitality training manual for the temple leaders in chapter 56, verses 4-8, but over the years that system had been corrupted. Instead of welcoming people, the temple system had become a way to exclude people. In Mark chapter 11, we see that during Passover week, a time when all the nations would gather in the city, Jesus was angry about how His Father’s house was being used. The temple should have rolled out welcome mat, but instead, it put up barriers, and Jesus could no longer take it.

Jesus quotes Isaiah and Jeremiah, passages that the temple leaders would have known well. They knew what they were doing was wrong, but when confronted they chose to blame the messenger rather than look at their own sin. When reading this passage it is easy for us to point fingers at the temple leaders, but the question still rings true for us. How welcoming are our houses of prayer? Are peoples of all nations, social and economic status, educational levels, physical ability, and religious affiliations welcomed by us? Do we make it easy for those who are different to join in and feel a part of our family?

PRAYER: Dear, God, please forgive us for turning Your house into a den of thieves, robbing Your intended purpose for us to be the welcome mat for all to come to You. Help me be aware of those who may need the hand of hospitality extended to them in the name of Jesus, the Messiah.

“On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers” (Mark 11:15-16 NIV).

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