Stand Down

September 11, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Elaine James –

The Range Officer yelled out the command “Stand Down!” Upon hearing the command, the men in the target range lowered their weapons. He explained during their training that when he gives the “stand down” order, it does not mean to lay your weapon down. Quite the contrary. When one is in the “stand down” position, he must stay alert. There must be a Range Officer present at all times when the target range is open. It is his responsibility to secure the area and give complete instructions before allowing anyone to practice shooting, so everyone will be safe.

This was described by my friend who had her first target range experience.

This description stimulated my writer’s mind to formulate this analogy comparing God to the range officer. God, our range officer, commanded very similar requests to us in Ephesians six, the section which is entitled, The Protection for Believers, The Armor of God. In this section of the Bible, which is only seven verses long, Paul gives this instruction:

1. Stand against the devil’s schemes.
2. Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground.
3. After you have done everything stand.
4. Stand firm!

We go through life feeling fearful, anxious, worried or overwhelmed, asking “why is this happening to me?” That question could be answered with a question like “where is your armor of God?” Is it in a pile on the floor? The word of God is the sword of the Spirit; it is either in your hand or lying around collecting dust. It is the only offensive weapon in our armor.

“With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18 NIV).
Praying daily and putting on the full armor of God can be likened to going to the target range, having the range officer present and realizing we must never put our weapons down, but “Stand Down” instead.

PRAYER: Dear God, I confess that at times I lay my armor down. Please forgive me. Help me to be reminded that I need to put on the full armor of God daily.

“The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him-the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord-and he will delight in the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:2-3 NIV).

Who’s Listening?

September 2, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Rosemary Flaaten  –

Listening for God’s voice sometimes feels like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. We’ve been told He’s out there. We may even experienced His work in our lives, but at times, when we desire a direct answer on an important matter, the phone line to heaven seems to be out of order. We quickly assume that the trouble is on God’s end. We’re looking for His help. We’re all ears.

But are we? What does it really mean to hear from God?

I have a daughter who loves to talk. She communicates brilliantly about the details of her day. The problem is not in her speaking but in my lagging ability to listen. As my daughter talks, my mind ends up on rabbit trails and before I can stop myself, I have that far-away gaze. She knows she has lost me. To be truly attentive to her, I have to stop talking and stop thinking about what I’m going to say next or how I can correct or encourage her. I have to put aside my agenda, and simply listen.

When it comes to connecting with God, I’m just like my daughter. I like to talk to God and tell Him all about what I did, what I am desiring and what He should do about it. The breakdown in our communication lies not my unwillingness to talk. Nor does His mind wander when I’m talking to Him. God is present and listening.

The breakdown in our communication is not God’s inability, or unwillingness, to speak but rather my construed expectations of how He ought to interact with me. I long to have Him appear in a burning bush or send writing on the wall or even sit face to face like He did with His disciples. It seldom happens this way. God communes with us at the spiritual level. His Spirit speaks to our hearts and minds not in an audible voice but through the awakening of our mind and heart to His movement in our lives. This demands stillness and intimacy.

PRAYER: O Lord, teach me to recognize the gentle movement of Your whisper.

“When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you’re not disappointed” (Jeremiah 29:12-14 MSG).

Connecting With God

August 22, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Art Fulks –

Recently, I watched a video on the internet about connecting with God. I was simply searching for an illustration for some teaching that I was doing in my church on worship. What came from the process was a fresh perspective for my own life.

The message of the video was not spoken, but rather a series of phrases attached to a visible thread. It framed a cohesive thought reminding me that connecting with God in worship is not simply about an attitude of recognizing His worthiness. Nor is it a practice or behavior supported by a conducive set of worship songs or the right litergy.

Instead, true worship is the natural response of a person who is in a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe that is uninhibitted by sin. There is only one problem: There is no person on earth who’s relationship with God is not impacted by sin. That is why there is no way to connect with God in worship apart from the Gospel.

Simply put, the Gospel message is that Jesus Christ came to earth, was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on a cross to pay for our sin, was buried, and rose again from the dead three days later to secure our victory over death. He has ascended back to Heaven and will return again for His followers (God’s children) to live with Him for eternity. This salvation is a free gift that is received by grace through faith and repentance.

In John chapter 4 we read a story about Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman at a well. Their conversation begins on the topic of a human’s essential need for water, but quickly turns to a universal heart issue about people connecting with God in worship. It reminds us that people all around the world striving to somehow connect with God.

As I continued to search for videos, the diversity of approaches illustrated online demonstrated that people across the street and on the other side of the planet are searching for spiritual peace and life in many ways. But God’s Word tells us where the connecting point truly is. It is found in Jesus Christ. In every aspect of our faith journey, there is a connection with the Gospel. Connect with Jesus and you connect with God.

“Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He.’” (John 4:26 NASB)

Seeing as God Sees

August 11, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Peter Lundell –

Do you ever compare yourself to others who have a similar level of education and who don’t work any harder than you do, but who make lots more money or achieve a higher degree of recognition?

When I feel that way, I remember a different kind of people—and everything looks different. In countries all over the world live people who are smart, work hard, would have gotten academic degrees if they had the chance, and who give their lives to serving God or some cause. Yet they live in the poverty of an African village or a Southeast Asian jungle. Or they live under the religious oppression of a Middle Eastern society. Or they work in secret under the brutal North Korean regime. Many have no salary at all. For all their work they may receive only beatings. They may receive a prison cell. And some are tortured and killed.

We so easily forget these people, especially our brothers and sisters in faith. But God does not forget them. They are closer to His heart than we can know.

When I think of them, I ask myself what on earth am I thinking when I say I’m not making enough money or not being “successful” enough?

From God’s point of view, everything—everything—looks different from how we typically perceive things from our human point of view. Especially in a wealthy and free nation.

God does not watch TV, and he does not care who’s rich or famous. Second Chronicles 16:9 says, “The eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”

Regardless of how your outward life appears, as your heart grows and you see as God sees, you’ll have spiritual wealth and recognition money can never buy.

PRAYER: Father, I commit to seeing as You see. May my eyes become like Yours. May Your thoughts become mine.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9 NIV).

Phony Following

July 23, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Cheri Cowell –

One of the more recent discoveries I made is this: obedience brings blessings, but delayed obedience is disobedience.

Gulp. Now, I have always thought of myself as an obedient person. I was, however, using the worldly definition, which says that if I obey eventually, even begrudgingly, I have obeyed.

This is not God’s definition. Our forefathers had it right when they demanded a “Yes, Sir” or “No, Sir” with a strong and agreeable tone in their children’s voices. It was a way to condition them to a God-type of obedience. An obedience that would serve them well as adult children of God. An obedience that requires not just the requested behavior, but also a bending of the will. Why does God demand this sort of swallowing of our pride? Because our actions must match our words, and our words must match our heart. God knows what’s in our hearts.

In the Parable of the Two Sons, one son said he wanted to obey but did not do as he said. That son was indeed disobedient. The one who wrestles with God and then finally follows through with action is the one who obeys. It is just as dangerous, however, to do something with a heart that is not inclined. We must be careful to have all three—our hearts, words, and actions—in alignment. We won’t be able to fool God because He can spot a phony follower in a heartbeat.

PRAYER: Thank You Lord for being obedient, even to death, so I might have the privilege of following. Help me follow You in a way that honors. Help me to punctuate my “Yes, Sirs” with a heart and action that echo my words.

BIBLE VERSE: “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go” (Matthew 21:28-32 NIV).

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