Growing Up in 2012

July 13, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Art Fulks –

New Years resolutions are a waste! Maybe that is a bit harsh, but it probably got your attention. Most of us set aside any reality of keeping our resolutions by January 2nd. Setting goals is good, but our failures often make us forsake the goal as either impossible or improbable.

As I study the Bible, I am increasingly convinced that our definite, one-time decision to repent and trust Christ as Lord and Savior may be the only significant, instantaneous event on the Christian journey. After that, the process of becoming the follower of Christ that He desires requires daily acts of the will, (empowered by the Holy Spirit), that develop into patterns of noticable change in our life.

Following Christ is a journey of mountains and valleys, victories and set-backs. It is a path filled with joy and suffering, glory and grace. Understanding this helps maturity begin to grow in our lives. As we decide to surrender our life daily to God, our victories will not make us complacent and our defeats will not cause us to quit.

Bible passages like Ephesians 4 help us see a picture of what growing up in Christ looks like. Our progress is not measured by whether or not we keep one ‘resolution’, but rather faith that produces noticable change in our life over time.

All four of our children are now in their teens. I am noticing more how they are maturing, especially in the younger kids. Why? Because I am observing the patterns of our older kids being repeated in the younger. As a parent, I am not over-reacting as often as I used to because I have faith in the temporary nature of the process. Hopefully, I am also growing in patience.

I cannot help but wonder if that is how our Heavenly Father sees us. He sees our victories with joy and views our failures with disappointment. Yet He has the advantage of Sovereign knowledge that the process of maturity will be perfected in His children.

May we look back at 2011 and notice the ways we are maturing, while evaluating the areas where we still need to mature in the coming months. But whether it is becoming more healthy physically or spiritually, my prayer is that we will all look back at the end of 2012 and be able to see the noticable change as we grow up in Christ together.

BIBLE VERSE: “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6 NASB)

A Personalized 2012

July 3, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Carin LeRoy –

Now that we’ve entered another New Year, what resolutions will you make for 2012? Usually they are something practical like lose weight, de-clutter the house, take a vacation or eat healthier. But have you considered what type of spiritual resolutions you might make to grow stronger in your walk with God? Let’s consider a few thoughts.

Prayer. That’s never been my personal strong point, and who doesn’t need to think about that one? Keep a notebook of one-line requests and pray through them briefly. Save a space to write out the date when the prayer was answered. Or write out your prayers to keep your mind from wandering and read them as you pray.

Faith. Which of us can’t use more of that? Ask God to give you the ability this year to trust Him more. Even the apostles asked God to increase their faith (Luke 17:5). Be active in helping your faith to grow this year. Stand on promises in Scripture that will build up your faith.

Thankfulness. Instead of focusing on the negative, let’s learn what it means to have a grateful heart. Not only should we thank God for His blessing to us, but show appreciation to those around us. A person who is gracious and appreciative can change someone’s day. Be that person.

Think through spiritual resolutions that you want to consider this year, and personalize it. This list provides only a few ideas to get you started. Ask Him what He wants to change in your life. There is always room for more growth, and God has a plan to take you to the next step in your relationship with Him. So grab a steaming cup of coffee and find a quiet place. Sit down with a Bible and notebook and get started. Let’s see what God has in store for 2012!

BIBLE VERSE: “In Him and through faith in Him, we approach God with freedom and confidence.” (Ephesians 3:12 NIV).

PRAYER: Lord, thank You for another new year. Help make this a year of growth in my life and strengthen my relationship with You. Show me the areas that need change, strengthen my faith and give me a heart to listen to Your voice.

Seeing through Trees

June 20, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Peter Lundell –

Paralleling my mother’s apartment is a thick stand of trees. Summer grows an impenetrable green. Autumn drops the leaves to uncover winter skeletons of branches through which I see all houses on the other side. Spring buds restart the cycle.

The cycle helps me overcome temptation. Through the sameness of daily life and annual events, I’m tempted to feel a sense of permanence, as if the people I know will always be there and the things I do, I will continue to do. But behind the appearance of sameness lurks an ending. Always.

Children feel as if their parents will always be there to watch over them. Adults feel as if they’ll go to work at the same place for eternity. Meeting relatives or old friends feels as if they’ll always be there next season, and that I will too. For thousands of years people have probably felt the same way. But there always lurks an ending.

Most of us prefer permanence and sameness to change. We like familiar, predictable, and comfortable. But permanence and sameness are temporary, even illusory. So I’ve started to resist that sense of permanence, the feeling of sameness. To do so, I must willfully embrace change and accept that no one and nothing will be around forever.

And when I do that, I live better.

A sense of permanence and sameness lulls a person into a daze that can cloud life for decades. Change and the cycles of life are often challenging or agonizing. But embracing change—as Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a time for everything”—prepares us for the difficulties.

And that wakes us up to live more fully here and now. Our hearts embrace and our minds understand God’s hand in life.

And our eyes just might discover our path into eternity.

PRAYER: “Father, open my eyes to see through the things in my life that seem so permanent, so the same. Enable me to see beyond them, where You will take me. I trust You to enable me to face whatever I must.”

BIBLE VERSE: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12, NIV).

Truest Worship

June 13, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Carin LeRoy –

Recently my neighbor knew a family who had a fire in their house, and she asked if my husband had a spare pair of shoes she could take to the husband. We remembered a pair of casual nice leather shoes that didn’t fit my husband that were never used. They were sitting in the closet gathering dust, so I gave her the pair. My neighbor was grateful, and I felt good they were going to someone in need. As I thought about those shoes, I began to think that giving those was not a sacrifice because we couldn’t use them anyway.

How much do we sacrifice for others? As Christians, we go to church most Sundays, give our tithe, attend small group, maybe give a gift to a missionary and fill our lives with good and honorable things. But these things are not sacrifice. Mothers forgo a career to raise their children; fathers give up comfort and peace to work hard and support their family; and parents forfeit their desires for their children’s needs. These are ways we sacrifice for family.

When we are self-absorbed, we focus on our own needs and desires and are not willing to give for the sake of others. Many marriages fall apart because one or both partners refuse to compromise or meet the needs of the other. Sacrifice means we are willing to deny ourselves in order to bless others or to bless God. We relinquish for the benefit of another.

I think of a missionary pilot and friend who flew a small single-engine plane for years helping others. He flew into isolated areas taking in supplies and food, carrying out those needing medical care and making sure that he was meeting the needs of those in his area. His work cost him his life one day as his plane crashed into the side of a mountain after encountering bad weather. He sacrificed for others.

Do we live a life of sacrifice? Or are we self-absorbed? Christ is our ultimate example. In Scripture we read in Philippians that “Christ made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant.” Why? Because He knew that living in obedience to God’s will was worth the sacrifice of his own life—even death on a cross. Out of His great love, Christ left all the glories of heaven and His deserved place beside His father to sacrifice His life for us.

As we move into this new year, let’s remember that a life of obedience and a willingness to sacrifice is the truest form of worship.

PRAYER: Lord, thank You for Your great sacrifice and willingness to come to earth and die for my sins. Keep me mindful that a life of true worship stems from a life of obedience and sacrifice.

“You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death– even death on a cross! As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow– in heaven and on earth and under the earth – and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:6-11 NET).

“Before” Still Gives You A Choice

June 4, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Jarrod Spencer –

If you are like me, you’ve probably had many moments where you either knew or felt that you shouldn’t have said something, could have said something differently, or wonder if someone took it wrong what you said. These are not fun moments. They can aggravate you like a rock in your shoe. You think about it, worry about it, and want to fix the situation.

Though easier said than done, there are some ways we can prevent that feeling. It comes from a poem titled “Before You”, by William Arthur Ward…

Before you speak, listen.
Before you write, think.
Before you spend, earn.
Before you invest, investigate.
Before you criticize, wait.
Before you pray, forgive.
Before you quit, try.
Before you retire, save.
Before you die, give.

Not all of these are situations where you make a mistake and have to go back to correct it. However, they are some simple, everyday, applicable phrases to help us through some situations in life. Some of them may impact you more than others. Some may make you really look within. Some might be what you wish someone else would keep in mind.

“Before” is a powerful word that says things are at the fork in the road. “After” is when you chose to take a path. “After” is no turning back; “before” is when the option of taking another route is possible.

Try to put the “Before You” tool in your pocket to pull out at the many opportune times that will come about in your lifetime.

PRAYER: Father, help me to listen, think, earn, investigate, wait, forgive, try, save, and give as I go through life.

BIBLE VERSE: “The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?’” (I Kings 19:11-13 NIV).

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