Focusing our minds on Christ. . .studying His word, drawing tight into a relationship that is unbreakable. This is when His Spirit lives in our minds helping us keep our eyes focused only on Him.
DEVOTION BY Rhett Snell POSTED 2/19/2020 6:00:01 AM ON Matthew 6:6 MSG
The screams were deafening.
My body shook from head to toe from the bass coming through the speakers. A neon sea of people surrounded me. Fireworks in the sky caused the crowd to erupt. I danced, sang, and laughed with my friends as we raced around the music festival we had fled to after school got out for the summer.
I was carefree … or so I thought. I once went to many large concerts, music festivals, and live events. I thought at the time I just had a deep passion for music. Later, I discovered I went for the noise. The noise crowded out the daily doubts I had about myself—fears I couldn’t voice … guilt and regrets I had to keep quiet. I could hear nothing but the music and the people.
Eventually, I realized the concert ends, the crowds leave, and the inner critic picks up again where it left off: They don’t really care about you. You will fail. I can’t believe you did that.
I thought noise would end the voice, but Jesus teaches the secret is actually peace and resting in His presence. Slowing down and finding time to be quiet helps us hear His voice and overtakes the critic. Creating a sacred space with Him. One where we can be ourselves.
When we find this sacred space, we realize Jesus offers unfailing love and forgiveness. A love that takes away the pain of the guilt and regret we feel. He offers kind words such as, You are precious in my sight. He gives encouragement: Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. This is what He wants us to carry through the day, not the voices we create or hear from the world around us.
Take some time this week to put away the smart phone, drive with the music off, and hide the to-do list. Find a place that’s quiet and sacred. Pray about whatever comes to mind, and let the focus of your thoughts shift from you to God.
(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)
(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)
DEVOTION BY Anna Gregory POSTED 2/12/2020 6:00:01 AM ON 1 John 3:1 NKJV
I sat in my chair, feeling the real truth about my importance.
If I were absolutely truthful, my importance felt like zip, zilch, nada. I had been sick most of the week, and I had sat at home, feeling bad and wondering if anyone missed me.
Most of us overstate our importance. We feel important because we have family, friends, and other people who would miss us if we were gone. But I like to walk in the cemetery. I have found stones with no names because they had disintegrated or were too faint to read. And some stones that are completely readable contain bones that are forgotten. Forgetting doesn’t take long.
We also like to overstate our importance to God. If we weren’t here, who would God have do what we do? I’ve discovered someone can always step in and accomplish the task. So, I guess my real question is “Am I important to God?”
The Bible says I am. And yet this doesn’t give me the sense of importance I desire. As I try to figure out what I am searching for, I search the Bible. Looking through God’s Word causes me to wonder again.
Does it take accomplishing things to make me important? Does loving family and friends define my importance? What about reading God’s Word and obeying as best as I can? Or telling others about God’s love?
As I search for an answer, the only one I can find is that I am important because I am God’s child. That’s it. Nothing else. Nothing more. God tells me if I accept Jesus as my Savior, love God with all my heart, ask forgiveness for my sins, and undergo baptism, that I am His child. And this is the reason I am important to God.
Have you discovered your importance to God?
DEVOTION BY Andrea Merrell POSTED 2/5/2020 6:00:01 AM ON Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV
Wait. Not one of our favorite words, right? Certainly not one of mine.
Unfortunately, waiting is a part of life. I find myself waiting in line at the grocery store, at the bank, and in the drive-thru at a fast-food restaurant. I wait as my call is put on hold. Many times I wait for the check to come in the mail and for that special item to go on sale.
But sometimes the waiting goes deeper and becomes more intense. We find ourselves in a season of transition that creates confusion and ambiguity. It can be quite unsettling as we struggle to decide which direction we should go. We are locked in an area between one point in time and another. This is called liminal space. A threshold. The time between what was and what will be. A place of waiting and not knowing.
For most of us, this place is uncomfortable. But one writer says this liminal space is where all transformation takes place—but only when we learn to wait and let it form us.
The Bible is filled with examples of this liminal space. The Israelites in the desert. Joseph in the pit and then prison. Mary and Joseph as they traveled to Nazareth. The disciples after Jesus was crucified.
Those times of not knowing the next step or what to expect can be some of the most important, life-changing moments for us. Jesus may be asking us as He did the disciples, “Where is your faith?”
So, what are you waiting for? The birth of a child? Your healing? Maybe you’re moving across the country or trying to find that perfect someone. Perhaps you’re praying for a prodigal to come home. Wherever you are on your journey—your season of waiting—know that it did not catch God by surprise. In fact, He may have orchestrated it to mold and shape you, preparing you for your destiny.
You don’t always have to know all the answers or figure everything out for yourself. Trust God … with all your heart. He’s got your back, and He alone will direct your path.
DEVOTION BY Warren Johnson POSTED 1/29/2020 6:00:01 AM ON Matthew 6:20 NKJV
Besides moths and rust, fire also destroys earthly treasures.
Before the Industrial Revolution took hold around the world, firefighting often required communities to band together and pass buckets in what’s known as a bucket brigade. The only way to put the white stuff on the red stuff was hand-to-hand movement of water from the supply to the fire. One or two people couldn’t extinguish an already burning structure.
Our church once used fiber food containers—about one gallon in size—to take the offering. The more I thought about it, the better I liked it. It clearly showed the relationship between a bucket passed, resources gathered, and resources applied to the fires of temptation, loss, and sin that rage in our culture.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ spoke about laying up treasures in heaven. He also gave us the Beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer, and numerous other clarifications of God’s intent for us to understand the law and Jesus’ fulfillment of it.
When Jesus spoke of the storehouses, He encouraged community participation. He knew if we didn’t prepare for trouble, the fiery darts of the evil one would set us on fire, and we would be without the means to extinguish ourselves or our community.
Our challenge continues to be thinking long term, especially in today’s world of instant gratification, fast food, and entitlements. What God puts before us includes a plan for when disaster strikes. If we don’t add to the storehouse now, we will look in vain during times of great combustion. Not only will the buckets be empty, but also no community will exist to assist us.
The concept of community and abundance allows us to depend upon our church in times of need. We can put our money in a financial institution, but no one there can react to and bless us like the corporate act of worship when we add our resources to the church collection bucket.
Make sure you put your resources in the right bucket.
DEVOTION BY Andy Hollifield POSTED 1/22/2020 6:00:01 AM ON Romans 8:1 KJV
Standing before a judge—knowing you are guilty and that the sentence might be severe—is a scene that plays out in courtrooms around the country every day.
I once received a citation for a traffic violation. I was guilty, but I had what seemed like justifiable reasons. I was prepared to present pictures of the location as evidence supporting my reasons. I also had a copy of my driving record: almost four decades and over twenty-five years of that time as a professional truck driver. That day, I stood, knowing my spotless record had been marred and I had no excuse.
As I look back, I remember the helpless feeling as I stood alone before the judge. I had no defense … and no one to plead my case. I knew I would soon face judgment and sentencing. I hoped for mercy, but expected justice.
That was not the last time I’ll stand guilty before a judge and await judgment. Scripture teaches all will stand before the Lord, the Supreme Judge, when we leave this world. Once again, I won’t have an excuse, and again I’ll seek mercy, knowing I deserve justice.
The difference will be that the Judge will be my Father and His only begotten Son. Jesus will plead my case, telling the Father I am worthy of forgiveness because of the price He paid for my sins on Calvary's cross to buy my pardon.
And once again, my charges will be dismissed. I will lose rewards for things I should have done and didn't do, but I will be spared the penalty for my transgressions. I will receive God’s mercy, and my record will be perfectly clean.
Jesus is the best Advocate. He is the Son of the Judge and always wins His cases because of the sacrifice He made for our sins.
Thank God that in Christ your record is clear.