Category Archives: Devotional
A neat, often untold part of Jesus’ resurrection story is its festival. We know about Passover festival’s relation to the crucifixion of Christ, but there was also a festival happening on the day of the resurrection. It was called the Festival of Firstfruits. On the first day after the Passover Sabbath, which would have been Sunday, every Jewish male would be bringing a sheaf of barley to the temple. That barley would be offered to God, whose acceptance of the offering was a pledge for a greater harvest to come. Fifty days later, the Jewish people would celebrate the Festival of Weeks or Pentecost to celebrate that greater harvest of wheat that God provided.
Seeing any parallels?
Paul helps us out in 1 Corinthians 15:20-23:
“Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”
Christ resurrection, among many other provisions, serves as a pledge of a greater harvest to come. A harvest of people who are dead in sin, but will be made alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5).
Fifty days after the resurrection, during the Festival of Pentecost, Jesus had ascended, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Church, and 3,000 were added to the kingdom (see Acts 2). A truly greater harvest.
So What? A few takeaways:
- The resurrection was just the beginning! The resurrection of Christ is God’s pledge to bring a harvest from our lives as believers. The life of Christ within us is power to produce fruit for God. The fruit of godly character and a harvest of disciples made. What is my life producing?
- The harvest doesn’t come without laborers and labor. Fields still have to cultivated, seeds still have to be planted, weeds must be dealt with. He pledges resurrection power to us. We should pledge to work the fields and to do our part to assure a harvest of disciples made for him. What am I doing to prepare for a harvest?
Fifty Days Until Harvest
What will you have to offer God? How many could God add to your church if you, in dependence on Christ, allowed him to use you for a harvest? Get started:
- Ask God everyday to make you fruitful.
- Prepare the fields through identifying who you can reach.
- Plant seeds by sharing the gospel in every way you can.
- Get equipped HERE.
I’m not surprised when Christians ignore or bemoan mandates. We’ve been ignoring and rejecting Biblical mandates for centuries.
- “Go and make disciples” – Pastors job.
- “care for widows and orphans” – Too hard.
- “seek first the kingdom of God” – on Sundays.
- “Deny yourself” – After Mardi Gras.
- “pray in a private room” – Naa.
- “give a tenth” – Legalistic.
- “strive for unity” – if they agree with me.
Building our lives around the mandates that matter most will help us navigate worldly mandates with wisdom and discernment.
This year is half way gone. Here’s a list of questions to journal through to reflect and prepare for the 3rd and 4th quarter:
- Has my devotional life been consistent?
- Has my prayer closet or private room seen me regularly?
- Have I prayed with other believers regularly?
- What Bible reading plan have I followed?
- What verses or truths have been especially meaningful so far this year?
- What books or articles have been especially helpful so far this year?
- What personal growth or victory can you thank God for?
- What victory or challenge do I need to seek God for?
- Who have I sought out for wise counsel? Have I ignored or heeded the counsel of others so far this year?
- How many times have I shared the Gospel?
- How many lost people am I currently praying for?
- How many new relationships have I built with potential new disciples?
- Who am I currently discipling and training into godliness and disciple making?
- Who am I encouraging through difficulty and affliction?
- What have I given away? Have I been faithfully generous with money? Time? Possessions? Words? Wisdom?
- What is working? What is exciting? What has momentum? What is bearing fruit?
- What is not working? What does it seem like I am pushing up a steep hill? What do I need to give up on? What is robbing me of energy?
- What have I neglected? What have I ignored? What am I hoping will just disappear on its own? (But I know it won’t)
- What is worth doing, but I’m out of my league? What do I need more power, prayer, people to help with?
- Check screen time on my phone. What does it say about my heart and priorities? What does my internet history say about my heart and priorities?
In the beauty of the Christmas season, don’t forget the messy reason that it came about. The reason for the season and the savior was to deal with the sinfulness of humanity.
- 1 Timothy 1:15 – “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…”
- 1 John 3:5 – “Jesus came to take away our sins…”
- Luke 7:34 – “The Son of Man came eating and drinking… a friend of tax collectors and sinners.”
- Luke 19:10 – “the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”
- Matthew 20:28 – “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
These purpose statements of Jesus remind us of the messiness of our lives that can only be cleaned up through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
- He took out the trash of our lives. Jesus is our Savior and Sacrifice who took away our sin (1 John 3:5).
- He sits down at our messy table. Jesus is a friend of sinners, with a love that looks past our sinfulness to make relationship with God possible (Luke 7:34)
- He paid the price to get me out of the mess I was in. Jesus’ life served as a ransom for my sin enslaved soul (Matthew 20:28).
- He rescued me from the edge of the cliff. Jesus is a shepherd who finds the lost sheep and joyfully takes us into his arms (Luke 19:10)
These purpose statements also should remind us of the mission that Jesus now has us on. Our mission is not about safety, personal achievement, or self-actualization. Our mission is about sin and its impact on humanity. We join Jesus by:
- Sharing the story of his love and sacrifice that overcomes sin.
- Befriending, not separating from sinners in order to share Jesus with them.
- Living sacrificially to serve others and show them the work of Christ in our lives.
- Taking risk and going after the lost one until he or she is found.
This Christmas, let’s celebrate the reality that God, through Christ, was willing to enter the world to take on the messiness of our sin that we might know Him and join Him on this messy mission for lost souls.
This verse is repeated six times in the Old Testament and is great to memorize and meditate on during the month of November.
1 Chronicles 16:34 – “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, his faithful love endures forever.”
(Also found at Psalm 106:1; 107:1; 118:1; 118:29; 136:1).
So you can memorize one and say you memorized six! Lol!
Thanksgiving Memory Verses
Join me in memorizing 30 Thanksgiving verses on the Bible Memory App this month: LINK.
I’ve used the Bible Memory App daily for almost three years now. It’s been a great devotional tool. Helps me hide the word in my heart. And, only 100% better than scrolling Facebook/Twitter/Snapchat/TikTock, or whatever. Start a new habit with the Bible Memory App.
“And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised.”
2 Corinthians 5:15
One of the reasons Jesus gave his life, was to rescue us from the dead end of living for ourselves. We’re made and saved for so much more than self-love. And it’s in trusting in and living for Christ and for others that we discover more peace and power than selfishness and looking within can offer. Lord, save us from the dead end of selfishness.
“we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you, with godly sincerity and purity, not by human wisdom but by God’s grace.” 2 Corinthians 1:12
Godly sincerity and purity can also mean simplicity, singleness of mind, purity of motives, graciousness. Insincerity, duplicity, selfish motives, entitlement prevents us from seeing others as Christ would. What insincerities reside in my heart? Do I use people or love people? Am I as gracious toward others weaknesses and faults as I am toward my own? Am I singleminded in my desire for people? Lord, test our motives. Make us pure, sincere, and gracious.
“don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master… nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 MSG
What holds you back? Why do you hesitate? What is the real master of your life? How much time is wasted on temporal things? What would it look like to let it all go and go throw your self into the mission of God? Lord, help us throw off half-hearted ness and hesitation. Help us throw caution to the wind and pursue your mission.
“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.