Spirit and Soul is all about eternity. Life ever after with a God who has prepared a place in advance for us. Dig into the Word. Search out your heart. Contemplate where you will spend eternity. . .then choose to offer your life to God.
DEVOTION BY Toni Samuels POSTED 8/18/2022 6:00:01 AM ON Mark 2:17 NLT
A drunk man entered our church one Sunday morning.
He looked disheveled, was partially unclothed, and spewed obscenities. It was a scary scene to my nine-year-old eyes. And from the looks on the faces of everyone around me, they were frightened too.
After a few terrifying minutes, several men quieted him and escorted him from the sanctuary. For months, I wondered what had become of that man, and I worried that another “unwelcome visitor” might interrupt our services. Many years later, it remains one of the most disturbing experiences I’ve had in church.
In Mark 2, after Jesus called Levi (Matthew) the tax collector to follow Him in ministry, He had dinner at Levi’s house. Other tax collectors and various sinners attended the dinner as well. The Pharisees were critical. “But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with such scum?’” (Mark 2:16). That’s when Jesus made His startling statement: Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.
What would happen if the global revival so many of us long for happened in our local churches? Likely, people who struggle with addictions, prostitution, homelessness, mental illness, and other difficult circumstances would come to our services.
The question is how would we engage with those whose lives and challenges are much different than ours. And would we spend time with them as Jesus did? Hurting people in our communities need Dr. Jesus and His abundant love and grace.
What are some ways you can follow Jesus’ example and welcome others when they come into your church and life?
(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)
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DEVOTION BY Julie Grenness POSTED 8/11/2022 6:00:01 AM ON 2 Peter 1:6 NIV
While I was chatting on the phone with my oldest girlfriend, she mentioned the piety stall at her local church.
Being so kind and caring, my friend ran the little faith store. Old friends can be best friends. They are like diamonds, precious and rare. Our friendship winds back to 1977 when we were young teachers and catechists. I admire people like her, doing their best to magnify God. Upon reflection, my oldest friend is still like Jesus: a staunch, devoted friend. We do treasure old friends.
And to knowledge, self-control, and to self-control, perseverance, and to perseverance, godliness. This text has significance for any Christian who has Jesus as their best and oldest friend and companion. I take this to mean I must persevere in my beliefs.
We can manage our piety stalls by worshipping in faith and praying for godliness. We are all on a spiritual journey. Regardless of our age, we can read the Bible and reflect on God’s love, which sends us the blessing of the grace of Jesus, our oldest friend.
When two or more are gathered in God’s name, we can celebrate godliness. If we are restricted at home, we can manage our own piety stall. As Christians, we should persevere in aspiring to godliness, praying in faith for Jesus’ holy grace. Piety was shown in Jesus’ great sacrifice for each of us on the cross, and Jesus’ love for each of us remains.
How are you managing your piety stall today?
DEVOTION BY Caroline Hales POSTED 8/4/2022 6:00:01 AM ON 1 Peter 3:15 NIV
I could feel the warmth of the sun on my face as I stood in the parking lot chatting.
My friend puffed balls of smoke into the air as the conversation turned to current events. We spoke about the challenges of gathering amidst pandemic restrictions. The joy of speaking in person brought grins.
I had previously shared the gospel with this friend. At that time, he had asked questions and appeared interested in God. So, I gave him my church’s Christmas and Easter invitations, which he posted at his desk in our workplace. On this day, I wanted to understand his beliefs.
He identified as Buddhist and explained Buddhists believe that everything exists eternally in an endless cycle. In this system, “enlightened” people can escape the cycle by purifying their minds.
I agreed with his belief in eternity and shared how God created the world and continues to create. I explained that one day all who believe in Jesus—those who are saved by grace through faith in Christ—will live on a new earth. I spoke of how one day evil will cease. I also explained how God can purify our minds as we grow in Christ through spiritual disciplines.
My friend voiced his belief that Buddha warned against investigating other religions. I responded by saying that God encourages people to ask questions and search for His truth in the Bible and our world. We continued our discussion with two different views. In the end, neither of us changed our minds. But we had a cordial exchange during which he heard the gospel.
The apostle Peter instructed the early church to prepare themselves to defend their hope. He encouraged gentle and respectful conversations.
By faith, we share the good news with all those who ask questions, leaving the outcome to God. We are to stand firm in the truth found in the Bible, proclaim the good news, and watch God work.
What attitude can you adopt when sharing your faith with someone with a different view?
DEVOTION BY Adeyemi Bello POSTED 7/28/2022 6:00:01 AM ON Lamentations 3:27 KJV
We all have our own battles to fight.
Our battles vary, and they differ from person to person. After all, our races vary, and because our races differ, our tracks may seem similar, but they come with different hurdles.
Although this may be a bitter pill to swallow, the patient needs it to heal. This truth will take us far in life and fulfill God’s purpose for us. We must bear our yokes to be great in life.
Bearing the yoke is never easy, but it is the battle we all must fight to enter the rest God has prepared. Great people of old fought, and we must too. That is the pattern of life. It is designed by God to be so. Abraham fought. So did Moses, David, Paul, and many others. Any great person in the Bible has a biography laced with stories of how they bore their yoke by facing challenges. We won’t be an exemption.
We shouldn’t be jealous of others. The battles Jabez fought are not the same as those Jacob fought. They were both great men in their respective times, but their battles were different.
The writer tells us to bear our yoke in the days of our youth. We have enough strength to do a lot when we’re young. We can experiment, build structures, and enact systems. Things that will give us life when we are old.
Bear your yoke … your challenge … when you have strength so that you can help yourself when you are old.
DEVOTION BY Melissa Crone POSTED 7/21/2022 6:00:01 AM ON Proverbs 16:9 NKJV
Sometimes at the last minute, things or people unravel our carefully laid plans and turn our attention in a different direction.
One Saturday afternoon, about the time I was getting ready for a Sunday school class fellowship, I received a strange text from my mother—one that made no sense. After a few odd exchanges, I decided to call … not once, but several times. She would not answer but would return my call and not say a word. I knew something was wrong.
My husband and I jumped into the truck and headed for her house. When we arrived, I found my mother had been so nauseous that she was dehydrated and could not communicate. After an ambulance ride to the local hospital and several tests, she discovered her sodium and potassium levels were dangerously low. She received excellent care and, less than forty-eight hours later, was back home. Aside from her weakness from the whole ordeal, she was herself again.
Although we make plans, the Lord directs our steps. I am so grateful He does. God is all-knowing, and His ways are much higher than ours.
Had it not been for that strange text from my mother, we would have continued with our Saturday night plans. I would not have known she needed my help. But the Lord set my steps in a different direction.
If we are planners, we should keep making those plans. But we shouldn’t be so intent on following them with our own agenda that we miss something more important that needs our attention. Even amid our best-laid plans, God can get our attention in any way He pleases. Even through one strange text.
Be open to God changing your plans.