God’s Way Wins

Proverbs 19-21

Proverbs 21 30 NIV sgl

I encourage you to read these chapters focusing again on what stands out to you.  Depending on where you are at in life right now, different words of wisdom might stick.  Here are some that stuck out to me:

19:11 – A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.

I’m someone who tends to hold grudges.  Especially if I wasn’t asked for forgiveness.  When someone asks, I am usually willing to offer it, but the thing is, people don’t always ask.  And sometimes I perceived I was wronged when the other person doesn’t see it that way.  This proverb reminds me that it is better to forgive and move past an offense than to let it sit and weigh me down.

19:20 Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.

Accepting correction isn’t easy.  I tend to bristle at it (especially when I know it is something I did wrong, or need to change).  It puts my defenses up, and I imagine many others feel the same.  But when we accept proper discipline, we come out better.  We learn and grow, and don’t continue to make the same mistakes.  It is an important part of life to heed Godly advice and discipline, even when we don’t like it.

21:30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.

This one is an encouraging one to end today’s thoughts.  Sometimes it can feel like in this world, evil is winning.  That people have made their plans, and they are succeeding despite it being contrary to God’s ways.  So here is your reminder: they won’t win out in the end.  Nothing can succeed if it is against the LORD.  We might feel weighed down and defeated when we see evil prevail, but we know how it ends.  We know who wins.  And it isn’t evil.

I’m writing this while life is weird.  We are stuck at home, not going to church (I don’t think I have ever not been to church on Easter Sunday), many people not going to jobs, not having dinner with families, not enjoying a dinner out.  But we can have peace when we remember that no matter what is happening now, God has a plan, it will come to be, and we can look forward to eternal life.

~Stephanie Fletcher

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+19-21&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Proverbs 22-24 as we continue seeking and growing in God’s way during our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Can the Entitlement – Serve Some Mercy Instead

Free Theme – Beatitudes – Matthew 5:7

Matt 5 7 nasb

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and got to spend time with family and friends. I know in larger families it can be a real battle for food! I hope everyone got plenty turkey and their favorite side dish.

Yesterday we all celebrated what we were thankful for and it is super appropriate for today’s beatitude that we have this thankfulness in mind. It is amazing how easy it is for me to forget how good God has been to me. One day, like yesterday. I can dwell on God’s sacrifice of his son for all my sins and how he suffered through all my rebellion. He can get over all the times that I have hurt him via my sin in our relationship. He steadily pursues us and extends us grace for actions that no human being would ever forgive. He has ALWAYS taken me back when I came back from being a prodigal. He has never given up on me despite my poor character and my inabilities. He continually sees a value in me that I don’t see in myself. He has given me family, friends and relationships that I completely do not deserve. The older I get the more I see how messed up I really am just as a human being and God’s mercy behind it. The amazing thing is he still sees value in me and adopts me as his child. He still extends mercy and grace to me in spite of it all.

Sometimes I think that just saying “God is good” or worse yet using the cliché “God is good, All the time” doesn’t do any justice or come anywhere near to expressing exactly how good God is. It feels like all words and vocabulary fail to fully express all God has done. Maybe that is why all we‘re left with is “God is good”.

The crazy thing is that his mercies really are new every morning (Lamentations 3.22-23). Everyday I wake up and breathe; God supplies the air (Isaiah 42.5). He supplies us everything that we have. Our jobs, houses, cars, cell phone, internet, toys, entertainment, the plants, the trees, the turkey – it all belongs to him. He made it, he created it, therefore it is all his. We often forget that we are in somebody else’s house and nothing here actually belongs to us. It’s frankly embarrassing the entitlement and lack of gratefulness that I allow in my life. If there was a way to keep all this in our brains 24/7 we would be the happiest people alive. We should be the happiest people alive.

Our beatitude for today is Matthew 5.7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

I already feel like I have received the mercy that is promised here. Sometimes I am amazed at how good we have it in this life. Still I let my gratefulness get drowned out by a sense of entitlement towards God. When in reality he owes me absolutely nothing and everything that he has already given me is far more than I can repay.

Given all that I just talked about and how merciful God has been to us, I think we should extend that to others. If we live with this knowledge imprinted on our hearts it should actually be easy. There really is a redemptive quality to God’s love that allows us to forgive others. To show them grace when they absolutely don’t deserve it. We don’t have to be concerned about righteousness when we show mercy to those around us because we know that God has forgiven us for far more than anything a person could have done to us.

It’s this principle that I believe is our light to the world. We show mercy to those who don’t deserve mercy and love those who don’t love us because there is one who loves us far more. So, let’s have this attitude of gratefulness and let it overflow from our hearts to those around us. Forgiving and loving others the way that God has for us.

Daniel Wall

Love and Forgiveness

1 Corinthians 16 14

Throughout this week we have discussed topics on having a Christ-centered life, God’s Will vs. our will, our purpose in life, worshipping by singing, standing up for Christ, and thriving. Today we are going to discuss two important attributes and characteristics of Christians. We, as Christians, should love and forgive. Here’s why!

God’s Word, the Bible, sets the example of a Christian’s life. Throughout the Bible we find the word love. Love is a strong word. Right? A lot of times we use the word love without meaning.

To begin, I believe 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is the Bible’s definition of love.

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

-1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Here are other scriptures that reference love:

“Let all that you do be done in love.” -1 Corinthians 16:14

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

-1 John 4:8

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” -John 13:34-35

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” -John 15:13

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

-1 Corinthians 13:13

“We love because He first loved us.” -1 John 4:19

God wants us to love Him, His Son, and each other. God loved us first! He loved us before we were born! He loved us so much, that He sent His one and only Son to die for the sins of the world. That’s pure love. Jesus Christ was obedient to His Father and followed His will. Jesus loves us too! We should love God with everything we have. We should display the love of God so others can know Him and receive His love. If we do not love one another, then we do not know God! God is love! Everything revolves around love.

Another important Christian characteristic is forgiving others. I understand, it’s hard to forgive people sometimes. It’s hard to forgive people who make fun of you, call you names, or just act rudely. But it’s something we have to do!

In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus teaches His disciples the Lord’s Prayer. In verse 12, Jesus says that we should pray to our Heavenly Father, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

That’s huge! We are praying and asking God to forgive us of our debts and sins. After and only if we also forgive those who sin or have debts against us.

That’s right! You heard it! We have to forgive others so God will forgive us.

Jesus continues by saying in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

That is plain and simple to understand. We need to forgive one another, if we want to be forgiven by God.

Love and forgiveness flow together hand in hand. If we love one another, we will forgive one another. If we do not love one another, we will not forgive others. If we do not love, we do not know God, because God is love.

Because of God’s love, we have pathway to salvation. He gave His Son, Jesus, as a perfect sacrifice to die on the cross for our sins. Jesus Christ lived, was crucified, died, was resurrected, and is coming back again! That’s the Good News of the Gospel.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

-Romans 6:23

We all are sinners, and the price of sin is death. Sadly, because of sin, we all will die. Jesus gives us hope. Because of the shedding of Jesus’ blood, God has forgiven our sins. If we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and are baptized, we will be saved. We have hope that when we die, we will be asleep in Christ, until He returns. When Jesus Christ returns, the dead in Christ will be raised and those who lived a righteous life will be resurrected to life eternal in the Kingdom of God. Don’t you want to be a part of that? I know I sure do!

Today I encourage you to live a Kingdom life. Love one another and forgive those who sin against you. God wants us to live according to His Word, His will, and His way. We are His children!

-Brenan Dominguez 

 

Hi everyone, 

I enjoyed sharing several topics with you all this week! I hope you have grown in your faith and learned something new this week from these devotions. I hope and pray that you will continue to grow and learn. I encourage you to read your Bible daily. Every time you read your Bible you will learn something new! Remember that God has a plan and a vision for your life. Find that vision, set a goal, and work toward achieving the goal. Our ultimate goal as Christians should be glorifying our Heavenly Father. 

If you need someone to talk to, you can always leave a comment here or find me on facebook.

Until next time, 

“The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” -Numbers 6:24-26

What is Jesus Doing These Days?

Ephesians 1-3

ephesians 1

Wednesday, June 28

God is eternal in both directions, past and future.  He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and the only God there is.  Jesus received all his power and knowledge from God and he had a beginning.  Jesus is not God.  That is very clear to me for many reasons we will not talk about in this devotion.  However, I have always tried to figure out what Jesus’ role is today.  I have heard very different opinions about his authority and power.  I have heard some say he is our king today and others have said he will be our king in the future.  Should we pray to Jesus or only to God?  Can Jesus forgive our sins?  Should we worship Jesus?  The answers to these questions cannot be explained by me in a few paragraphs and I cannot even say I am totally clear myself how it all works, but I am going to point to some scripture that will help to answer some of the questions.

Ephesians 1:19-22 says,”…These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised him from the dead, and seated him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come.  And He put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him as head over all things to the church…”  Christ was put in a place of authority, power, and dominion FAR above everybody else when he ascended to heaven and was seated at the right hand of God.  This already happened so he is already in a great position of power and authority over all of us.

Does Christ use that power today?  In Matthew 11:27, Jesus says, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father.”  He follows that up in verse 28 by telling the weary and heavy-laden to come to him and he will give them rest.  He doesn’t tell them to go to God, Jesus says to come to him.  He clearly is willing to play an active role in our lives today.  This doesn’t mean God is not in the picture, in fact, Ephesians 2:18 says that through Christ we have access to the Father.  And again, all of this authority and power came from God in the first place.

In Mark 2:1-10, Jesus forgave the sins of a paralytic and the scribes started wondering the same thing that some still wonder today.  They thought only God alone could forgive sins.  Jesus let them know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.  Interestingly, this was obviously before he ascended to heaven that he already had the authority to forgive sins.

Philippians 2:9-11 states that God highly exalted Jesus, and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  The definition of lord is master, which means Jesus is our master.  He is the head of the church, which I believe is not just a title, but an indication that he is very involved in the church today.

This is far from an exhaustive study on this topic, but it is clear to me that Jesus is not on the same level as man these days and he is active in our lives if we want him to be.  He is also not on the same level as God, and God is still involved in our lives as well.  I will continue to search the scripture for more answers on this topic, but I think what I have covered in this devotion is a pretty good start.

-Rick McClain

 

The Heart of the Matter

Matthew 21-22

matt 22

Thursday, May 4

 

Is it possible to love someone without liking them?  I have heard many people say that it is possible.  I suspect they believe that love is more of an action than a feeling, and since they are willing to act in a loving way to someone they don’t like, they believe it is possible to love someone without liking them.  That thinking never sat real well with me through the years, but I couldn’t really come up with a solid reason of why that was so.  Then one day it hit me as I was reading the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:36-40.  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”  Jesus listed three different ways that we are to love someone, with our heart, soul, and mind.

I believe that loving someone with our mind has to do with our thoughts and intentions.  True, an intention that is never acted on is pretty worthless, but I would say if you had the intention, you love that person more than someone who didn’t even have the intention.  If you desire to send someone a card to get them through a rough time, you are loving them with your mind even if the card is never sent.

If you love someone with your soul, I believe you are loving them with your life or your actions.  You actually send the card.  So in a way, I agree that it is possible to love someone without liking them because it would be a true act of love to send the card even if you didn’t like the person.

However, if you love someone without liking them, you would be missing the third part of love that Jesus referred to, the heart of the matter.  He said we need to love God with all of our heart.  I believe this has to do with the feelings or “liking” part of love.  Moreover, if we are to love God with our hearts, we should love people the same way if we are to love them in a complete way.  So yes, if you love someone, you should also like them.  If you don’t like them, you are missing one of the ways to love someone.

But what about the jerks out there that are soooo hard to love?  They may have wronged you and not felt any remorse.  They might hate your guts still today.  How is it possible to like these people?  Suppose a brother killed a sister.  Do you think the mother would still have feelings for her son?  I think it is very likely that the mother would still love the son dearly even though she would be distraught at what he did.  And that is the key; you don’t have to like someone’s actions to like the person.  It is possible to still like someone without liking what they did to you.

I want to go one step further with this.  If you are having trouble liking someone, I would strongly suggest that you need to forgive them.  If you have hard feelings toward someone, you are holding something against them, which means you have not forgiven them.  If you do not forgive them, God will not forgive you.  I encourage you to think about all of the relationships you have (school, work, family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, people you go to church with, etc.) and identify anyone that you have hard feelings about.  If you are having trouble liking them, you need to forgive them…today.

-Rick McClain

(Photo Credit: http://www.bibleverseimages.com/love-bible-verse-7.htm)

Giving Grace

Jeremiah 50-52

Jer 52

Wednesday, March 15

In Jeremiah 50-51, the writings describe the future defeat and destruction of Babylon. In the next chapter, the army of Babylon surrounded Jerusalem for 2 years and allowed no one in or out. Finally, the Babylonian army broke through Jerusalem’s walls and destroyed the city, taking the people captive.

Let’s look at the last few verses again, starting with 52:31 (this is from The Message version):
“When Jehoiachin king of Judah had been in exile for thirty-seven years, Evil-Merodach became king in Babylon and let Jehoiachin out of prison. This release took place on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month. The king treated him most courteously and gave him preferential treatment beyond anything experienced by the political prisoners held in Babylon. Jehoiachin took off his prison garb and from then on ate his meals in company with the king. The king provided everything he needed to live comfortably for the rest of his life.”
This pagan king – whose name literally began with “Evil” – chose to show extreme grace and mercy to his enemy. If someone who is not for God can show that kind of love, how much more do we, as children of God, need to extend God’s grace and mercy to those around us, both Christians and unbelievers!

As followers of Jesus, you and I are called to shine his light to the world. That includes extending his grace to others just as we have received his grace. We need to try to be peaceful with others (Romans 12:18), forgive others, and show Christ’s love to everyone, both believers and unbelievers. We all – myself included – are guilty of not always being gracious and merciful, and I pray for God to help me with this.
Practically, giving grace can mean…
* being extra patient with the new waitress who is having a difficult day. (Instead of docking her tip for poor service, how about tipping her over 25% with a note to say that you are thankful and praying for her?)
* not lashing out against your family members when they make a silly mistake – after all, haven’t we all made silly mistakes?
* forgiving someone when they have wronged you. This is very difficult, but is possible with the help of God!
* thinking and praying for wisdom before you say (or type) a response to someone that might be hurtful to them or to God. (Give them grace for their difference of opinion just as you would want their grace for your opposite opinion, and then carefully and prayerfully craft a God-honoring response).
There are a myriad of times when we do not extend grace and love to others… but then we can ask for, accept, and share God’s grace and forgiveness, requesting His help to be a true light in this dark world. 

-Rachel Cain

 

(Photo credit: http://biblepic.com/42/jeremiah_52-31.htm#.WMiy_RLyvVo)