Category Archives: Devotional
“human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.”
A broken world and brokenness in people often produce anger, but anger never repairs the brokenness. Only the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ can do that. We pursue it not with angry actions and reactions but through prayer, compassion toward others, forgiveness, bold gospel sharing, generosity….
Lord, produce your righteousness in me. Save me from and forgive me for unproductive human anger.
“But the word of God spread and multiplied.” Acts 12:24 #devo
Researchers say that each person infected with Coronavirus can spread it to 3 others. If those 3 each spread it to three and each of those spread it to 3, in 10 cycles, you’re at 59,000!
Would that this were true of believers spreading the gospel as well. God has not placed protective measures in place to stop the spread of our faith. We do that by remaining silent, socially distancing from the lost, and leaving the spread to professionals. The curve has flattened on the growth of churches and we are responsible. If you believe, think of three to infect with the gospel today. You may start a viral movement of transformation.
The Christian life is a race to the bottom. The goal is to serve, not to be served. To sacrifice for others benefit rather than for our own. The goal is not to make a name for ourselves but to serve without recognition. Entitlement has no place in the heart of a disciple. He lives for others with the goal of emulating the sacrifice of Jesus, who while on earth, chose others over himself every chance he had.
God used the negative social movement of Persecution in Acts 8 to accomplish His purpose of getting the gospel message beyond Jerusalem (see Acts 1:8). God can and does use the negative social movements in our day as well. Disasters, disease, wars, etc., scatter people everyday. COVID-19 has scattered church members, giving more time outside church walls. The question is: will we / are we being faithful to accomplish God’s big purpose of spreading the message about Jesus while we’re scattered or to those who have been scattered?
Stephen made a great difference b/c he was “full of the Spirit and wisdom… full of faith and the Holy Spirit… full of grace and power…” Acts 6:3,5,8
Full can also mean covered with or completely occupied with. What covers me? What completely occupies me?
Lord, cover us with your Spirit, Wisdom, with Faith, Grace, and Power for today. Of all the things that can completely occupy me today, help me be occupied completely with your kingdoms resources.
“you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” Jesus, John 13:17.
Maturity, growth, fruitfulness means closing the gap between knowledge and practice and sharing. If you’re stuck or stale in your Christian walk, dissatisfied with your church, bearing little fruit for God. Close the gaps. Put a command of Christ to practice. Share what you know with someone else. It’s more than what you know.
“you will receive power…. you will be my witnesses.” Acts 1:8.
Two great promises: Power and Opportunity to Witness.
Two great tests: Do I have power? Am I a witness?
Two great prayers: Lord, fill me with your power. Lord, make me a witness and give me an opportunity today.
The father sent Jesus on an intentional mission of love and sacrifice. He lived simply and invested in others. He came to seek and to save the lost. He stayed connected to heaven and free from the entanglements of life. He gave all he had to give. Lord, help us live this kind of sent life. #devo
In Luke 15, Jesus gives us a glimpse of the Father’s heart for the lost.
1. Those far from God liked Jesus and he liked them (verse 1).
Is that true of me? When was the last time someone far from God approached me? Am I available to them? Building relationships with them?
2. Jesus welcomed and ate with disreputable characters (verse 2).
When was the last meal I had with someone far from God? Do I welcome or repel those far from God?
3. Jesus advocated leaving the crowd to “go after the lost one,” celebrating when the one is found (verse 4).
Who’s the one that I’m going after right now? Do I celebrate one sinner’s repentance or only the crowds faithful participation?
4. Jesus advocated for “carefully” searching for the lost until found (verse 8).
Can I say that my search for the lost is careful, deliberate, diligent?
5. The lost, dishonorable son was met by a heart “filled with compassion” (verse 20).
Do I have compassion or contempt for those far from God?
Jesus’ words in Luke 15, remind us that following the Father’s heart may mean…
- Being misunderstood
- Focusing on fewer people, rather than large crowds
- Careful, diligent, time consuming work
- Laying aside our contempt for sin, to throw our arms around sinners
And also, celebrations in heaven and on earth, as lives are transformed by the Father’s who loves the lost.
I love feed stores on Saturday morning. The smells. The activity. The plants. The SEEDS! Feed stores offer potential in the form of dirt, plants, and seeds. They also offer labor, because leaving with a bag from the Feed Store, probably means you have work to do when you get home.
I also love restaurants on Friday night. Especially with my wife. Restaurants offer food, experience, memories, but when you’re done, you’re pretty much done. Restaurants, even the cheapest, are also much more expensive than seeds and plants. And labor after the experience is purely optional – “I think I’ll look up that recipe and try it at home.”
Bread to Eat AND Seeds to Plant
So which one of these describe your church? Do you offer the consumer experience of bread to eat, experience, memories, until next time? or Do you offer the potential of seeds to sow into the community and encouragement to labor in the hood and home?
Healthy churches will offer both, but will be intentional about equipping people to plant seeds of the gospel and labor for the kingdom when they leave.
American Christianity has often focused on the bread to eat consumer experience and it shows. As Christians, we often talk about our churches like a favorite restaurant – “I like the music – preaching – programs.” The programs are laid out much like a menu of options for your enjoyment. And we’ve got it covered. Labor outside of Sunday’s is purely optional. Falling out of favor as a church or pastor, often means being met with the often heard assertion, “I’m just not getting fed.”
Food to eat and grow as a believer is something we need. Jesus did describe himself the “Bread of Life.” Pastors are Shepherds, and a shepherd feeds his sheep. But Jesus went beyond just offering bread. He sent people out with the seed of the word of God. He refused to set up a permanent feeding station on the mountain side for thousands, which would have swelled his numbers. And the book of Hebrews uses the analogy that people should, like babies, grow from milk, to meat, from being fed, to feeding themselves.
So, how do we balance the ministries of Bread to Eat and Seeds to Plant?
- Communicate that the labor for the Christ follower starts at the door of the church. Disciple making is about planting the seeds we pick up on Sunday in the home and hood. Food is for energy, not just enjoyment. How do you communicate about the role of church in the life of the believer?
- Equip people to multiply and share the gospel. How much of the calendar and menu of programs at your church offer real equipping and practice for the mission of God in the community? We can see in Jesus’ ministry modeling, assisting, watching, and leaving them to do the ministry. How are you training believers to be self-feeders and missionaries in their communities?
- Offer, how to’s and to do’s, with every sermon. Knowledge alone does not lead to maturity. Jesus was biased toward obedience and action and we should be to. Let’s think hard about practical application for everyday believers in every lesson and sermon.
What ideas does the analogy of Bread to Eat and Seeds to Plant bring to your mind?