All Devotionals

Family Business

Week 1

Thursday

April 27, 2017

A Great Trajectory

Read

Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”.

Think

Houses aren’t built without a blueprint or plan. Builders do not show up at construction sites, drop off a bunch of tools and supplies, and tell their crew, “Just start building and let’s see what happens”. Obviously, someone with expertise and knowledge of the entire process must be in charge. The same is true in building a successful household. God is a God of order, and He wants us to have a plan and follow His chain of command. If authority exists everywhere else, then why shouldn’t it also exist within the home? Families are not democracies where everyone always gets a vote. No, they are theocracies, meaning God-led and spiritually fed to carry out His transcendent values.

Today’s verse talks about trusting God, but He also trusts us to have a dedicated plan for wholeness and health. Parenting is the process of teaching and training your kids to leave. Deuteronomy 6 says to teach your children God’s commands and to impress them upon their hearts. Proverbs 22:6 says to “train up a child… and when they’re old they will never depart from it”. And finally, Genesis 2:24 says a man is to leave his parents to unite with his wife in marriage. God works through the family—a transcendent unit He created to do great things. When our children love God first and understand their purpose is to fulfill His plans, we will send them out with a great trajectory!

Pray

Be in prayer for salvation week in FC Kids. Ask God to touch the hearts and lives of our first-time guests this weekend. And pray for your family’s individual needs and desires with an attitude of gratitude.

Act

Does your family have a life verse from Scripture? If not, choose one for your household and post it as a reminder for the entire family. Today’s verse is a great place to start!

 

Wednesday

April 26, 2017

A Dedication to Education

Read

Hebrews 3:13, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness”.

Think

These days it seems like everyone has something to say about parenting. There are more resources available today than ever before on this topic. Some are great and some aren’t. The greatest advice, though, comes from the Ultimate Parent—God! He wants us to take an educated approach and it starts by going for the ASK: Always Seeking Knowledge. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God who gives generously to all...” When we seek God first in everything we do, say, touch, and feel our lives become an act of worship.

Successful families must be dedicated to getting educated. And a major lesson is knowing the distinction between trauma and drama. Trauma occurs from serious bodily injury or a deeply distressing or disturbing situation. Conversely, drama is feelings based. We must validate one another’s feelings—they matter. But, we also must be able to discern feelings from facts. This means speaking the truth in love. Parents, another way to learn is by listening. Mealtimes and bedtimes are great times to hear what your children have to say and ask questions. And, guess what? We can’t forget about playtime! Laugh and have fun, because, as corny as it may sound, the family that plays together stays together!

Pray

Father God, thank You for loving me enough to call me Your child. Guide me to always seek You first, and instill in me a passion for education and more importantly, application. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Act

Parents ask your children to reiterate what they learn every week in FC Kids or at The Mix, and revisit that lesson throughout the week. If you do not have children, share your thoughts and compare notes from the weekend message with your family and friends.

 

Tuesday

April 25, 2017

God’s Way Works

Read

Galatians 6:2 (TLB), “Share each other’s troubles and problems, and so obey our Lord’s command”.

Think

It’s been said, “So goes the marriage, so goes the family”. Too often, family dysfunction is due to upside down leadership. When children run the show, God’s divine design is unaligned. Unfortunately, too many parents in today’s culture have a ‘family first’ mentality. Children do not come first. Marriage is the most important relationship within the family unit. Strong marriages—grounded in Christ—create strong kids.

Great families are motivated by God’s commands, carried out by aligning His principles with their priorities. And everyone within the household has an important role to play. Husbands and wives, love each other and bear one another’s burdens. Regularly fan the flames of romance on date night. Children, do not try to divide and conquer when your parents present a united front. They know more about life than you do! All family members—encourage one another and do your part to make the household run like a well-oiled machine. This is what God wants; it’s part of His divine design. Because, as the ultimate Parent, Father God always has our best interest in mind—and His way works!

Pray

Thank God for instilling His supernatural peace within you through the power of the Holy Spirit, and pray for relational wisdom and discernment within your family.

Act

Assign a specific time to gather for family prayer every week.

 

Monday

April 24, 2017

Family Trauma Unit

Read

Mark 2:17, “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’”

Think

In the midst of a medical emergency, it’s essential to locate the nearest ER or trauma center. Such facilities are staffed with professionals ready to handle crisis situations. Knowing this, we trust that the staff has our best interest at heart and will do whatever it takes to restore our health.
Many times, though, life emergencies are not medical. So, where do we go to heal the bitterness of betrayal, a battered self-esteem or an unfounded fear? Answer: The Family Trauma Unit.

The family has a distinct purpose when it comes to providing healing, because it is divinely designed to develop full-court followers of Christ. Only Jesus can graciously and transcendently help us process the challenges of life and restore us from the inside out. Therefore, just as we trust medical professionals to help us physically, we trust our family—anchored in Christ—to do whatever it takes to help us emotionally and spiritually. The family is where hope, healing, and comfort  are found; it’s where the love of God is at the center of it all.

Pray

Thank God for His divine design. And ask Him to help your family navigate through the stresses and traumas of life.

Act

Read Ephesians 4-6 to develop a better understanding of the various roles in a Christ-centered home.

 

Paint the Town Red

Week 1

Friday

April 21, 2017

Take Hold of the Rope

Read

Joshua 6:25, “But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day.”

Think

Like many stories throughout the Bible, Rahab's is one of redemption and forgiveness. She literally moved from the whore house to God's house! It wasn't by chance or circumstance or luck. Rahab was pursued by God because God had a purpose for her life.

What do any of us have to do with Rahab? More than we might think! The truth is that God has a purpose for your life. He is pursuing you. And not matter where you are, what you've done, or who you thought you were, God always has redemption in mind for you. It's all about the red rope of redemption. Have you taken hold of that rope? Because hope is in that rope!

Pray

Thank God for pursuing you passionately. Pray for the strength you need to turn from whatever you may be involved in and the humility to take hold of His red rope of redemption.

Act

Find out just what it takes to grasp the red rope of redemption by checking out the NEXT STEP page . Or if you have done that, send the link to someone you know who is searching for hope!

 

Thursday

April 20, 2017

Confidence in Action

Read

Joshua 2:21, “Then she said, “According to your words, so be it.” And she sent them away, and they departed. And she bound the scarlet cord in the window.”

Think

Rahab was living in a sin-stained world. She had made moral fumble after moral fumble. But when the providence of God pursued her and the evidence of God persuaded her, she turned her life over to Him and experienced something that God wants us all to experience – a confidence that can only be fueled by Him. When we allow the providence of God to overwhelm us and the evidence of God to persuade us, we begin to live with confidence like never before.

Have you experienced the providence and evidence of God in your life? If so, you have His power on tap in your life! As you look at your day today, remember that no matter what yesterday held for you, you can turn it all around by giving it all to God. And you can walk boldly through today with a confidence that can only be defined as a God thing.

Pray

Thank God for giving you the power to walk confidently through today. Look for ways that you can share that confidence with others around you.

Act

Whenever you face a moment of fear or doubt or uncertainty today, remember the step of boldness and confidence Rahab took. And look for ways to make that kind of statement in your own life.

Wednesday

April 19, 2017

Time for Action

Read

Joshua 2:18 (MSG), “Hang this red rope out the window through which you let us down and gather your entire family with you in your house- father, mother, brothers, and sisters.”

Think

When Rahab had her interaction with the Israelite spies, she had a decision to make. God’s providence had pursued her. The evidence had persuaded her. But she still had to take action. So she hung a red rope out of her window. It took initiative on her part. The same is true in our lives. When we feel that pull from our heavenly Father and notice the evidence around us, there is still something we must do – we must make the decision to trust Him!

Have you felt the pull of God’s providence? Have you seen evidence of His hand in your life? Don’t ignore that. Make a faith decision to trust God with where your life is headed. Take action to follow His plan for your life. Then, like Rahab, experience the freedom from destruction that only He can offer you!

Pray

Ask God to reveal His evidence in your life. Ask for eyes to see what He wants you to see so that you, like Rahab, can experience what He wants you to experience.

Act

Read the full account of Rahab and the spies in Joshua 2. Take note of how quickly and readily Rahab takes action to trust God, and ask yourself if you are doing the same thing in your life!

 

Tuesday

April 18, 2017

Evidence Always Demands a Verdict

Read

Joshua 2:11, “When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.”

Think

In any court of law, evidence is a crucial aspect of the proceedings. Evidence is defined as "something that makes plain or clear; an indication or sign." In short, evidence is what points to the truth.

We read yesterday about some of the evidence that Rahab had seen in the lives of the Israelites; evidence that caused her to put her faith in God. But take a moment to think about your own story. What evidence have you seen of God's hand around you? Look objectively at the evidence around you, and reflect on the truth - God's truth - that it is pointing you to.

Pray

Ask God to reveal His evidence in your life. Ask for eyes to see what He wants you to see so that you, like Rahab, can experience what He wants you to experience.

Act

Yesterday you put a red cord around your wrist. Today, when you see that cord, think of a specific story or situation that God has allowed you to go through. And thank God for the evidence He has placed in your life!

 

Monday

April 17, 2017

More Than a Chance Encounter

Read

Joshua 2:1, "Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. ‘Go, look over the land’ he said, ‘especially Jericho.’ So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.”

Think

The providence of God is mysterious and miraculous. What we might consider “chance encounters” could actually be an arranged meeting by God. That is what happened in the life of Rahab and the Israeli spies. As the spies scouted the city of Jericho, they needed a place to hide. They found it in the home of Rahab, the prostitute. Scripture tells us that she knew who they were by the reputation that preceded them; the stories of the Israelites and their God were well known. She probably never anticipated that she would have an opportunity to meet them. But, there they were in her home and something in her was obviously drawn to want to know more about them and the God they served. So much so that she would ask them to save her and her family when the city fell. Because of a providential encounter and the courage to ask that she and her family be saved, Rahab ended up in the lineage of Jesus.

Rahab saw the evidence of God in the lives of the spies and she wanted what they had. As Christ-Followers, evidence of Him should be seen in our lives also. We never know if we might have a providential encounter with someone who is seeking Him. Don’t miss the opportunity for a divine encounter that could completely change the trajectory of someone’s life.

Pray

Thank God for His providential plan to save us through the death, burial and resurrection of His son, Jesus Christ. Ask that He open your heart and eyes to the providential encounters He may have for you.

Act

A red cord was used to identify Rahab and her family so they could escape Jericho as it was captured. Tie a red cord around your wrist or put it in a prominent place as a reminder to allow evidence of Him in your life.

 

Easter

Week 2

Friday

April 14, 2017

Our Ascension Power

Read

Luke 24:50-53, “When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.  Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.  And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.”

Think

We all know it’s often difficult to say goodbye. As the disciples watched Jesus ascend into heaven, you’d think they felt down, a little fearful, and uncertain about being Jesus’ witnesses to the world. However, their response was quite different. The Bible says they worshiped and were filled with great joy. You see, the implications of His physical absence were far greater! They finally understood what the scriptures had foretold. The culmination of this event proved their sins were forgiven, God was in control, and that He would return.

As Christ followers, we are emboldened by God’s supernatural resurrection and ascension power! How amazing is that? Jesus overcame the grave to free us from sin and death, and He returned to the Father to prepare a place for us. His ascension shows us His promises are true and allows His Spirit living in us to guide, protect, counsel, and convict our hearts. So, the next time you feel overcome with fear, doubt, insecurity, or temptation, remember that the Prince of Peace is working all things for your good. Hallelujah! We are fighting from the victory of the risen Lord!

Pray

The Bible notes that Psalm 100 is for giving grateful praise, so let’s do just that!
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs… Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise… For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Act

Let’s Paint The Town Red this Easter at Fellowship Church! Join us for one of our many experience times across all campuses and online. Learn More

 

Thursday

April 13, 2017

Peace Be With You

Read

Luke 24:46-49, “ He told them, ‘This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,  and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’”

Think

After His death, Jesus’ followers and friends were overcome with disappointment and grief. Fearful of an uncertain future, they hid trying to figure out what had gone so terribly wrong. You see, Jesus’ death looked like the most epic failure of all time. So, imagine their surprise when the risen Lord appeared behind locked doors and said, “Peace be with you”! Although a common greeting, these words now meant much more as He stood beside them in His glorified resurrected body.

After His resurrection and prior to His ascension, Jesus accomplished three important tasks. First, He restored the disciple’s severed faith and reestablished their hope of eternal life. Second, the disciples received a history lesson of sorts. Luke tells us their “hearts burned” as He opened their eyes to spiritual truth. And finally, with their faith and spiritual clarity intact, Jesus gave the disciples final instructions to carry the good news of the gospel of to the world. As Christ followers, these same instructions are ours. Are you regularly seeking insight from the wisdom of God’s word? Are you exhibiting understanding and patience with others? Are you shining Christ’s light in the darkness and sharing the good news with those far from Christ? Remember, this is not only an act of obedience, it’s a matter of life and death!

Pray

Ask God for opportunities to invite others to join you this Easter at FC! And pray for great weather as we kickoff the holiday weekend with Good Friday in the Park.

Act

Read more about Jesus’s appearance to the disciples in Luke 24:30-49.

 

Wednesday

April 12, 2017

Looking Beyond the Tomb

Read

Luke 24:5-8, “In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified, and on the third day be raised again.’ Then they remembered his words.”

Think

The grave could not hold Him. The tomb remains empty. Our Savior has victoriously defeated death once and for all. We serve the risen Lord. We know this.  We believe it in our hearts. Why then, do we allow our current struggles, past mistakes, inadequacies, and insecurities to mask what we know is true? Because, in these moments we just can’t we seem to look beyond the tomb to the supernatural resurrection power that’s available to us 24/7!

As the women approached Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning, what do you think shocked them most? Was it the missing body, the appearance of the two men whose clothes “gleamed like lightening”, or their unusual question, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?’ These women had been present at the crucifixion, they saw Jesus draw His last breath, they witnessed His burial, and they arrived that morning carrying spices to remove the stench of death from His lifeless body. Only when reminded of what the Savior had said did they remember His words. This is such a teachable moment for us all! It proves that we mustn’t be so clouded by emotion that we forget the Word of God. We are forever free of sin and death, and every day we must live in the light of the risen Lord and cling to His promises. Remember, “Jesus came so that we would have life, and have it to the full!”

Pray

Thank God for fulfilling every promise and delivering you from sin and death. And pray for specific ways God could show His power to those around you.

Act

Put today’s verses in context by reading Luke 24:1-12.

 

Tuesday

April 11, 2017

Most Holy Place

Read

Luke 23:44-46, “ It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.  Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last.”

Think

Can you imagine seeing a battered and beaten Jesus on His way to die the most dishonorable death? And can you imagine watching as nails were driven into His hands and feet? And can you imagine the feeling of uncertainty and fear as you heard Jesus cry out before drawing His last breath under a darkened sky? In this same remarkable moment the curtain at the temple was torn in two unveiling what separated the Holy of Holies and the Most Holy Place. This area was so sacred, that only the high priest was allowed to enter once a year to sacrifice for the atonement of sin. Most notably, though, the curtain ripped from top to bottom, which was only possible by the hand of God.

As we approach Easter, we tend to have a heightened sense of gratitude for Jesus’ sacrifice. But we often fail to remember that not only is this a time to celebrate our hope of heaven, it’s a time to recognize that we have an all-access pass to the Most Holy Place—the throne room of God. Every time we pray, every second we seek God, we are standing before His throne. So, as we move through Holy Week, let us not only be mindful of God’s gift of unmerited grace, but also to pause and simply bask in the presence of our God who loves unconditionally and calls us His own.

Pray

Pray for every chair to be filled this Easter weekend and for countless lives to be forever changed.

Act

Read the full account of Jesus’ crucifixion, death, and burial in Luke 23:26-56.

 

Monday

April 10, 2017

For the Love of Us

Read

Luke 23:13-14, 20-21, “Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, and said to them, 'You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him’... Pilate argued with them, because he wanted to release Jesus. But they kept shouting, 'Crucify him! Crucify him!'”

Think

It is difficult to really understand the totality of God's love for us. We sing, “Jesus Loves Me”, we recite John 3:16, we thank Him for His immeasurable grace and still the depth of it seems to evade us. These outward expressions are wonderful, but they only skim the surface of His incredible love.

Take a moment to imagine how it would feel if someone you know personally, perhaps a family member or a close friend was willing to take your place for a crime they didn’t commit. Picture that person enduring your consequences. Although accused, they never try to shift the blame back on you. Knowing the severity of the punishment they are about to face, they follow through. And then after it is all said and done they still open their arms to embrace you and say, “I love you”.  Such a selfless act is unfathomable, yet Jesus did it for us. He did no wrong. He lived a perfect life. He didn’t have to do it!  And yet His love for us came first. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”. Let’s keep this in mind as we grow closer to Easter and pray for those far from God to attend church this weekend.

Pray

Pray for the opportunity to share with others how God has blessed you in ways you don’t deserve.

Act

Put today’s scripture in context by reading Luke 23:1-25.

 

Week 1

Friday

April 7, 2017

Is There Another Way?

Read

Luke 22:42,   “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Think

When was the last time you felt so distraught that you starting sweating blood? We cannot even begin to comprehend just how overwrought with sorrow Jesus was knowing what He was about endure. No other human has ever felt such an intense desire to be spared from God’s will, nor has anyone shown as much humble obedience and faith in the Father’s will. Like us, Jesus naturally wanted to avoid pain and suffering and proved that it’s okay to ask God for deliverance. Then He modeled the perfect godly response by saying, “Let Your will be done”. The purpose of prayer is to seek God’s will and align our will with His.

God never promised us a trouble-free existence, but He did promise us His presence to guide us and help us weather every storm. Jesus said to follow Him no matter the cost. This means He’s not asking us to do what He’s unwilling to do or has never done Himself. That’s why we look to Jesus as the “author and perfecter of our faith”. Obedience to God’s will—no matter how difficult it is in the moment—will result in growth, blessing, and added strength. And we know that “in all things He works for our good” and His glory!

Pray

Pray for yourself and those around you to be open to God’s will.

Act

Be inspired by Jesus’ passion by reading the full account of His last night in the Garden of Gethsemane.

 

Thursday

April 6, 2017

Take This Cup

Read

Luke 22:19-20, “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’”

Think

In life we’ve all had to make certain sacrifices. It may be to maintain a budget, doing what’s right instead of what’s gratifying in the moment, or giving up an extracurricular activity that coincides with church. No matter how big or small, it will never be greater than the magnitude of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. So, we must never forget to be grateful to God in both the good times and in the bad. Just think, our very worst day is a walk in the park compared to Jesus’ last.

The Last Supper marked the end of the old covenant act of sacrificing a lamb without spot or blemish as atonement for sin. It also marked the beginning of the new and everlasting covenant. Jesus was soon to become the sacrificial lamb by shedding His blood for the forgiveness of all sin past, present, and future. He gave His life to reconcile those who believe in Him to a perfect and holy God. Therefore, must never let our appreciation for God’s greatest gift grow dull. Every day we should wake up and thank God for His promise of a Christ-filled eternity, regardless of what the day might hold. Because, really, where would we be without Him? And more importantly, where would be going if weren’t for Christ’s work on the cross? So, today sing to the Lord a new song of remembrance, gratitude, and joy.

Pray

Thank God for the incredible act of love demonstrated on the cross.

Act

Read the full passage surrounding today’s scripture found in Luke 22:14-23.

 

Wednesday

April 5, 2017

Fair Weather Faith

Read

Luke 19:37-38, “When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’  ‘Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’”

Think

As Jesus approached Jerusalem on a donkey, certainly a humble entry for the King of Kings, the people shouted with joy, saying, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Unknowingly, in just a few days time, they would be just as passionately crying out for Him to be crucified. The problem? The majority praised Him for His supernatural abilities, yet they did not know Him as their personal Lord and Savior. Their sudden shift in loyalty is mind-blowing, right? Wrong! How often do we leave church feeling blessed by God’s presence, encouraged by other believers, and convicted from the weekly message? Then Monday hits and we feel the pressure to launch into our daily grind, fulfill obligations, and weather unforeseen complications. What happened to our awareness of God’s presence? How did our attitude of praise evaporate so quickly? By midweek we’ve forgotten the message we heard on Sunday, and more importantly we’ve failed to include God in every aspect of our lives.

We are wired for worship and purposed for praise. Jesus deserves our adoration! In fact, praising God makes every aspect of our lives complete, essential, and worthwhile. It reminds us of His greatness, power, and presence. Feelings may be fickle and fleeting, but understanding the joy of Christ in us is eternal. Remember, let everything you do, say, touch, and feel be an act of worship to the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings! He alone is worthy of our praise.

Pray

Pray for all the teams preparing to create a great Easter opportunity to praise Jesus.

Act

Read the full passage of today’s scripture found in Luke 19:28-41.

Tuesday

April 4, 2017

Lukewarm Faith

Read

Revelation 3:15-16, 19, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.”

Think

In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sat confined in the Birmingham city jail and wrote the following: “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright objection.” Dr. King took a page from Jesus’ words to the ancient church in Laodicea as he addressed his letter to fellow clergymen. In the midst of great civil unrest, he did not admonish the racial segregationists or the hate-filled Klansmen. No, his extreme disappointment was with those who could stand and make a difference, but out of comfort and self-sufficiency did nothing.

Likewise, Jesus rebuked the wealthy, self-sufficient, complacent, and spiritual arrogance of the Laodiceans. Due to their lukewarm approach to their faith and non-productivity within the kingdom of God, Jesus threatened to “spit them out of His mouth” with distaste if they failed to repent. Therefore, within the crazy climate of today’s culture and our microwave mentality, we must be mindful to not invert our posture of surrender and pervert our necessity for Jesus Christ.

Pray

Take some time before the Lord to meditate on just how reliant you are upon His power and provision. And pray a high-risk prayer availing yourself for God to work through your reignited passion for His fashion.

Act

Take your spiritual temperature by answering the following questions:
• How many people are you praying for on a regular basis?
• On average, how many people are you inviting to church each month?
• How committed are you to serving within house?
• How great is your willingness to step out of your comfort zone for Christ?

Monday

April 3, 2017

Fuel the Fire

Read

Revelation 2:4-5, "You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.”

Think

Spend any amount of time reading the book of Revelation, and you will undoubtedly walk away with questions. Many of the aspects of this amazing book are confusing and confounding. While reading it we must remember that it was written at a specific time by a specific person to a specific audience for a specific reason. The Lord Jesus Christ had a very clear message to the seven churches of the province of Asia. In today’s verse, we see the crux of His message to the church at Ephesus: “Return to Romance!”

That church, which had been known for its passion, had lost some of its fire. The Ephesian Christians had fallen into a monotonous routine. They had forgotten their first love – Jesus Christ. Although written in ancient times, this message is just as applicable today as it was then. Do you find yourself just going through the motions in your walk with God? Take Jesus’ words to heart, and return to “the things you did at first”. In other words, do what you did when you first fell in love with Christ, and rediscover the passion you once had and His call in your life!

Pray

Thank God for His clear direction and bold challenge to your life. If you’ve lost some of your fire for God pray for Him to help rekindle the flame!

Act

One of the best ways to keep your spiritual fire burning is to commit to spending time with God daily. Even when you don’t feel like it do it anyway! Ask Him what He wants to show you through His Word and pray for Him to break down the walls of monotony, and rebuild a bonfire of passion.

A Bout with Doubt

Week 1

Friday

March 31, 2017

Stop Stumbling!

Read

Matthew 11:4-6, “ Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

Think

John the Baptist’s message was simple: Repent now, for God’s judgment and wrath are imminent. After bearing witness that he had seen the Son of God, and expecting Jesus to right the world’s wrongs by punishing sinners and restoring order for the righteous, he was sadly disappointed. And to make matters worse, he was unjustly imprisoned and feeling removed from his calling. His disorientation came from hearing reports of Jesus’ miraculous healings. This led him to question Christ. Why wasn’t He doing what he was supposed to be doing and setting the world straight? John was righteous and faithful to God, so why was he being punished while the wicked were free to keep on sinning? Can’t we all relate? How many times have we questioned God the minute our lives stop making sense?

Although John can be faulted for lack of faith, his quest for the truth was quite commendable. Without hesitating, he sent two of his disciples to go straight to the source for an answer. Jesus responded saying, “Tell John what you’ve seen! Bear witness to My work!” Then Jesus added a little caveat. He knew He’d become a stumbling block to John’s faith, thus He said, “Blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me”. Touché! How often do we place our finite expectations on our infinite God, yet still doubt His faithfulness? Doubt for a season is fine if like John, we are intentional about seeking answers.

Pray

Father God, help maintain my trust in You in both the darkness and the light. Grant me wisdom and good judgment in times of suffering and loss. And guide me to search Your word for the answers that I seek.

Act

Do you have questions in need of an answer? Then it’s time to investigate! Ask God to guide you through Scripture. Ask Him what He wants to show you and pray for the discernment to apply it in your life.

 

Thursday

March 30, 2017

Neutral Ground

Read

Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”.
Romans 5:3-4, “Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit…”

Think

Have you ever prayed for something repeatedly, yet it never seems to happen? Feeling as if God simply won’t provide the answer leads us to doubt. We think, “Am I praying wrong?” “Am I being punished?” “Maybe I’m not ‘spiritual’ enough!” Then our doubt begins to shift towards God. We start blaming Him when we can’t find the answer to the unfortunate or unfair predicaments in our lives. Not identifying the root cause of our doubt can be detrimental in every way. We dance with disappointment, bind ourselves to bitterness, and parade around in pity. But we have a choice; we can allow doubt to defeat our faith or to defend it. As Christ followers, we’ve all had bouts with doubt, because faith is believing in what we cannot see. So, believe it or not—pun intended—the interesting thing about doubt is that it’s not always a bad thing. In fact, sometimes it works to our advantage.

Many people think that doubt is the opposite of faith, but it’s not! Unbelief is the opposite of faith. Doubt is neutral, positioned directly in the middle of these two polar opposites. As if on icy ground, our skepticism or uncertainty causes us to slide back and forth landing closer to one or the other. For example, C.S. Lewis greatly struggled with over-intellectualizing his faith setting him on a path to atheism. Eventually, though, his quest for truth led him back to God, and he became the most prolific Christian mind of the twentieth century. So let’s doubt our doubts and seek God’s truth. Remember, He is the one and only living God, Who is and was, and is still to come. Therefore, when we walk by faith, trusting in what we cannot see, we will soar to new heights of understanding both here and in the hereafter.

Pray

Father God, thank You for Your grace and compassion. I know that Your promises are faithful and true. Help me to persevere through doubt and to reach new levels of understanding. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Act

Read the Bible’s “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews chapter 11 as a reminder of God’s faithfulness and how He loves to use ordinary people to accomplish the extraordinary.

 

Wednesday

March 29, 2017

Speak Out to Doubt

Read

John 20:25, “So the other disciples told him, [Thomas] ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe’.”

Think

Is it sinful to doubt? Is it considered a personal affront to God when we question His presence in times of trouble? No! God is bigger than every question or circumstance causing disbelief. And God is so great, that He even welcomes us to speak out in uncertainty as we seek Him and desire to be heard. In fact, if every person that doubted God were eliminated from the Bible, it would be a very short book. Why then, are we so afraid to admit such feelings? Every believer has dealt with moments of doubt—and to say otherwise is untrue. Doubt left unaddressed can spread like mold throughout our hearts and minds. Therefore, the most ineffective way to deal with doubt is the failure to share it with others.

If you are currently in the throes of doubt and feel too ashamed to admit it—don’t be! You are in very good company. John the Baptist, after being unfairly imprisoned and awaiting execution, began to question if Jesus was truly the Messiah. Did he keep it to himself? No, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus directly if He was the One. Poor old Job, in the midst of immense pain and suffering, conveyed his doubt to his four uninformed friends for twenty-seven chapters. Even King David, whom God called a man after His own heart, cried out in Psalm 13 saying, “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?” And we can’t forget to mention the most famous doubter in all of history—Thomas. Within the presence of his fellow disciples, he expressed unbelief that Jesus had risen from the dead. Therefore, doubt your doubts and confess them out loud. Ask questions within the power of community, allowing trusted friends to speak the truth to you in love. And become an encourager for others to do so as well.

Pray

Father God, You are faithful and true; I know this even in moments of doubt and confusion. Help me to keep my eyes fixed on You no matter the circumstance and guide me to share my feelings with others.

Act

Memory verse: “But I am trusting You, O Lord, saying, ‘You are my God!’ My future is in Your hands.” (Psalm 31:14-15)

 

Tuesday

March 28, 2017

Cycle of Circumstance

Read

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.

Think

We’re all familiar with the circle of life: birth, childhood, adulthood, and death. As babies breathe their first breath others are breathing their last on this side of eternity. But isn’t it true, especially as adults, that we overlook the cycle of circumstance: change, conflict, and growth? We get so caught up in the what and the why questions that we fail to maintain focus on the Who—God. We start out in a place of orientation, we have clarity and understand our calling. We feel at home and at peace with where we’re at, when suddenly a big change occurs and we are thrust into a season of disorientation. Life no longer makes sense. We begin to worry and question God. We feel at odds with the world around us. This is the precise moment when we need to shift our focus from ourselves to God. Eventually, as things begin to resolve, we enter into a time of reorientation. Here we feel at home again and clarity returns, yet we’re experiencing life in a totally new way. As we push past the breakthrough, we’re thankful not only to be on the other side, but for this new level of understanding and growth.

Where are you in the cycle of circumstance? If you’re in a period of disorientation, keep on praying even when you feel as if God’s not listening. He’s at work in our lives whether we realize it or not. Remember, His ways are higher than ours and His thoughts are not our thoughts. So even when it seems as if the bottom is falling out and nothing makes sense, God has a plan. There’s purpose behind the pain. Trust God, and amazing things will happen in ways you’ve never before imagined.

Pray

Father God, thank You for always meeting me where I am and not where I think I should be. I put my trust in You, knowing if I lean on Your understanding, You will faithfully illuminate by path. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Act

Today, spend a few Psalm 46:10 moments being still before God. Open your heart and allow Him to flood you with His presence.

 

Monday

March 27, 2017

In the Face of Doubt

Read

Matthew 11:2-3, “When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask Him, ‘Are You the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?'"

Think

If we have lived any length of time, we have probably experienced some sort of disorientation—a life event that pushes us out of our comfort zone and into the unsettledness of the unknown. It’s a place of doubt, in which we can quickly come to the conclusion that nothing makes sense.

This is the exact place that John the Baptist found himself. He had been certain of his purpose, preparing the way for the Messiah. Then he experienced a life-jolting moment for speaking out against the king. Suddenly, he began to doubt if Jesus—his own cousin—was the Messiah in the face of imprisonment and death. None of us have likely ever been in such a mind-blowing situation. It's hard to even fathom how hurt and confused he must have felt. So, let's keep this in mind the next we are questioning if God is really at work in our lives! 

Pray

Father God, thank You for letting me doubt my doubts, and in the midst of them, let my trust and faith in You grow stronger.

Act

Spend some time meditating on your doubts. Journal questions involving them, and allow God to speak into your heart within moments of rest and reflection.

 

Financial Stewardship

Week 1

Friday

March 24, 2017

In God We Trust

Read

Proverbs 11:25, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed”.
Luke 16:11, “It is also a test of our faithfulness to God. Jesus said, ‘And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of Heaven?’”

Think

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, your heart is also”. There is a direct correlation between how we manage our money and what we treasure most. Question: Do you feel uptight and bristly when you hear a message on giving? Because, for many of us, our hearts and minds may be open to spiritual transformation, yet when it comes to our money, we still get funny. But the truth is, we’ll never fully understand God’s grace or see the growth we’re hoping for without first having a genuine spirit of generosity. Our wallet is a window to our soul, and where our wallet goes, we follow. You see, giving is something God wants for us, not from us. He doesn’t need our money, He wants us to need Him! Truly trusting in Him is putting our money where our mouth is—it’s where the rubber meets the road. Want to know what you love the most? Take a look at your calendar, bank statements, and credit card bills. Want to know what you trust the most? Make a generous donation. We must ask ourselves, “Do I trust God with my money?” and conversely, “Does God trust me with what I’ve been given?”

We must not confuse generosity with bringing back the tithe to God. That is not ours to keep, and it’s the minimum worship requirement. Generosity begins with willingness to give beyond the first ten percent of our income. The more we sow into the things of God, the more we will reap from Him. Favor and blessing are the byproducts of cheerful giving. Generosity is the currency for gratitude. The more grateful we are, the more we naturally want to give; it’s a show of love, devotion, and trust with thanksgiving. Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give”. We are never more like Jesus than when we give. Question: In what ways does your life reflect gratitude for God’s grace? Remember, when we give of our time, talent, and resources with a pure heart, God will bless us in ways we never thought possible.

Pray

Father God, give me a generous heart, and help me to trust in Your provision. Guide my thoughts back to Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection whenever I’m in the crosshairs of greed and entitlement. Thank You for always being faithful and true—it delights my heart to praise You! In Christ I pray, Amen.

Act

Would you call yourself a cheerful giver? Why or why not? Have you seen God bless your finances or provide for you in a unique way in response to your faithfulness? Consider these questions over the next few days. Memory verse: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8)

 

Thursday

March 23, 2017

Storing Up

Read

Proverbs 13:22, “A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous”.
Luke 14:28, “ For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?”

Think

Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit nothing every time”. This thought directly correlates to financial stewardship. Great stewards manage God’s money God’s way for God’s glory. Vision also plays a crucial role. This means every dollar earned needs a destination before it’s spent. But most of us fail to do to this. In fact, here’s some interesting, yet unfortunate, data about spending. 88% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. 18% of the 88 are facing bankruptcy, in bankruptcy, or coming out of it. The average American spends $1.26 for every dollar earned regardless of salary. 1/3 of adults in the USA are currently in the debt collection process. And finally, the number one cause of divorce in this country is the result of fighting over finances and money problems—but there’s hope!

Proverbs 21:20 says, “The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down”. What does this have to do with finances? A lot actually. Food and olive oil were common tender in the ancient world. Storing up means to save and invest. If we don’t, then every dollar we make has an obligation to the past and has no opportunity for the future. Wise managers cut the fat and keep their spending habits lean. This requires the discipline of getting rid of credit cards and cutting every corner possible, even selling stuff we don’t need. We can live without motorcycles and boats. And ladies, do you really need another pair of shoes? Take that money and invest in the future. For example, if you put $100 every month into a mutual fund or Roth IRA starting at age 25, by 65 you will have made $1.7 million! If you’re thinking, “I don’t have a hundred dollars” think again! What about every overpriced Latte you bought at the coffee shop or those ridiculous car payments? The wise save and invest and fools spend $1.26 for every dollar they make! Are you storing up or gulping down?

Pray

Father God, I want to honor You by being a great steward of what You’ve entrusted to me. Help me acquire the discipline needed to spend wisely, save, and invest. You are my everything! Thank You for investing in me and providing me with the hope of the ultimate inheritance awaiting me in heaven. I praise You in the name of Christ, Amen.

Act

Did you know that you can learn a lot from an ant? In fact, Proverbs 6:6-8 says, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest”. Today , let this verse marinate in your mind. And if you’re feeling ambitious memorize Proverbs 21:5, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty”.

 

Wednesday

March 22, 2017

Invest In the Best

Read

I Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character’”.
Proverbs 13:20, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm”.

Think

We’re all familiar with sayings such as, “You are what you eat” “One rotten apple can spoil the whole bunch” and “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. Today let’s focus on another idiom: “You are who your friends are”.  You see, when it comes to financial stewardship, one of our greatest investments should be in great people with great character. We are far better at managing our money God’s way when we cultivate and maintain quality relationships built on trust. Conversely, we will never be who God wants us to be if we refuse to change or limit relationships with those still involved in sinful activities or harmful habits. Who is in your inner circle? Who is your bestie? Do they know Christ personally?

We all know that Christianity is not a solo sport. We were created for community. I Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up”. Our best friends should be our allies of encouragement if we are having financial difficulties. Often in such circumstances, we need to be held accountable for our spending, and accountability emerges from affinity. Proverbs 27:7 states, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”. Again, who are you spending the lion’s share of your time with? Reckless spenders or wise investors? Because it’s also said that if you hang around with trash long enough you start to smell like trash. And, the kind of friend you are is the kind of friends you will attract. When we invest in God’s best in every way, we will pass the test every time and be blessed for it.

Pray

Father God, thank You for giving us Your best in Christ, the ultimate relational role model. Help me to choose friends wisely and to be a great friend to others. May I honor You today with my words and actions. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Act

What people or circumstances do you need to avoid? Is bad company corrupting your attempt to improve your character? With these thoughts in mind, memorize Hebrews 10:24, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds”.

 

Tuesday

March 21, 2017

Indebted And Debt Free

Read

Romans 13:8, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law”.
I Timothy 6:10-11, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.”

Think

We know everything we have belongs to God, and that we simply manage what we’ve been given. So, is it a sin to be in debt? Does this mean we are living outside of God’s will? No! Nowhere in the Bible does it say borrowing money or being in debt is sinful as long as we are earnestly seeking to repay what we owe. What is a sin, though, is reckless spending, purchasing items beyond our means, and loving money or the instant gratification of buying what we don’t need. The Bible is clear about God’s promise of provision and fulfilling our needs. However, we must not confuse our needs with our ‘greeds’! This provision does not mean He will rescue us from the consequences of debt or other unwise behavior. In fact, praying for God to remove the consequences of financial debt is an affront to the fact that Jesus died on the cross to pay our ultimate sin debt—something we don’t deserve! What we do need to pray for is the wisdom, discernment, and guidance to navigate through the consequences of our debt. Good stewards seek God first. Because when we put God first, our choices will align with His mind.

Unfortunately, we can fall into debt, but we cannot fall out of it. To free ourselves from such financial burden, we begin by mapping out our spending and making a budget. Then, we prepare a debt repayment plan and apply the 10-10-80 Principle. This means we bring back the first 10% of our income to God, put at least 10% of every paycheck into savings, and live off the rest (including debt repayment). Another tip is to use cash. It helps to physically see where our money is going. Did you know using credit cards causes us to spend up to 20% more? Finally, it always pays to pray, spend time in the Word, and consult with the One who gave us life and the Giver of every blessing. We must continuously express our appreciation for God’s abounding love and grace. And, remember that we are forever indebted and debt free!

Pray

Father God, thank You for Your constant love and provision. Help me to be a wise steward with a spirit of generosity and gratitude. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Act

Memorize and meditate on Philippians 4:8. “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

 

Monday

March 20, 2017

Budget From The Heart

Read

Luke 14:28, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?”

Think

As parents, we teach our children various responsibilities to help set them up for success. Taking care of what is given to them is a really important lesson. A key component in this is showing them how to manage their money. Too many times, though, a very important fundamental truth is forgotten; we are merely managers of our financial blessings—not owners. True financial success should be approached with an attitude of gratitude. After all, money management is not a financial issue, it is a heart issue.

The first step toward great stewardship is learning to LIVE ON A BUDGET! It’s money management 101. Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” No one wants to fail, especially when money is involved. Wondering where to start? Start with bringing back to God what is already His. The tithe is the first 10% of our gross income. It helps us remember that we don’t worship the provision—we worship the Provider.

Pray

Father God, thank You for your provision in my life, and for entrusting me with what I have. My heart is abundantly grateful. Help me to be prudent in spending my finances in a manner that brings You the glory You deserve.

Act

There is no time like the present to begin living on a budget. Here are some great free online resources to help you get started: www.Stewardship.com or www.Everydollar.com

Hop, Skip, and a Jump

Week 3

Friday

March 17, 2017

Landing On the Magnificent

Read

Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground’”.
John 6:40, “For My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise Him up at the last day”.

Think

Within the Trinity—3 in 1 and 1 in 3—each manifestation of God is equal in form and unique in function. God the Father is the initiator of Creation, redemption, and relationships, and the “giver of every good and perfect gift”. He sent His Son, as God incarnate, to redeem the lost through His blood for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus is our High Priest and the head of the body of Christ. Additionally, God the Son commissioned the Holy Spirit to comfort, counsel, and convict the hearts of believers. Created in God’s image, we too are relational beings, therefore, understanding the role of unity, community, and responsibility within the Trinity helps us grasp the unique roles God has delegated to us within the family and in the church. Husband and wife, also unique in function, delegate to one another. And, we as parents—like God the ultimate parent—must delegate responsibility within the home. Finally, we must remember that God has delegated evangelism to the church and gifted everyone according to His will to serve individual roles within the house.

As we hop, skip, and jump to the conclusion of this series, we must remember and apply the following. By concentrating on our walk with God, we are able to better distinguish the urgent from the important. Then we are open to opportunities to teach and communicate God’s Word and demonstrate His ways. This means we truly walk the walk; not just talk the talk. We must listen to one another and absorb wise counsel. And we prioritize living out God’s principles through our commitments and achieve this by skipping now what we will have to skip in the future. Focusing on the significant means our lives will be magnificent.

Pray

Father God, I love You. Thank You for representing perfect unity and harmony within the Trinity. Help me to apply all of the above in order to be who You want me to be and to do what You have called me to do. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Act

Be mindful of doing only what you can do and delegating the rest. Also, it’s the weekend! So make sure to keep on inviting others to experience life change first hand at Fellowship Church.

 

Wednesday

March 15, 2017

A Big Slice of Great Advice

Read

Exodus 18:20-22, “Teach them His decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times…. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you.”

Think

Every now and then, it helps to take a slice of great advice out of some humble pie. Because at times, we can be working very hard, but in the grand scheme of things, we’re barely working—it’s called the tyranny of the urgent. Over the past few weeks, we’ve discussed how God’s man Moses had lost his ‘Mo-Mentum’ having been burdened with the work of many. And that his father-in-law, Jethro, laid down some heavy advice after noticing the inefficiency of Moses’ work, time management, and lack of overall leadership. Moses had lost sight of his calling. God did not call on him to do everything, but to do some things specifically. Jethro wisely pointed him back to his purpose, which was to be ‘the people’s representative before God’.

The advice Moses received with great humility was twofold. First, Jethro redefined Moses’ leadership role, and then he spoke about the art of delegation. Today’s scripture says Moses was to teach God’s decrees and instructions. Suddenly Moses realized he couldn’t do this on a case-by-case basis. He agreed he needed to appoint godly men as officials, and so he did. Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for the lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed”. Nowhere is this better illustrated than by Jesus. He didn’t embark on a solitary mission to save the world. No, He chose twelve disciples to follow Him immediately and taught them how to lead and carry out their prescribed mission after Jesus ascended back to the Father. We are called by God to fulfill specific roles for His purpose. Whether leading a Bible study, a corporation, a classroom, or even a family room, great leaders are set apart by putting the right people in the right positions with the right posture under God’s chain of command. Do only what you can do and delegate the rest. What urgent things are you doing that are keeping you from the important?

Pray

Praise God for His calling on your life and ask Him to guide you in deciphering the urgent from the important.

Act

Has someone ever given you some great advice that you didn’t take? Were there repercussions? Think of a time when you received wise counsel and applied it. What was the outcome? Now memorize Proverbs 12:15, “The way of fools seem right to them, but the wise listen to advice”.

 

Tuesday

March 14, 2017

The Standard

Read

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

Think

Most people have standards for what they will or will not do. We have societal norms. In the medical field there’s standard healthcare. Companies have standard operating procedures. Students take standardized tests. Why do we set standards? Why do we draw lines between the acceptable and the unacceptable? The answer to these questions may differ according to world-view. Some surmise that humans are basically good, and that the majority of people are kind and hardworking. They believe the status quo comes from the decency of mankind. Conversely, Christ followers understand that, in fact, the opposite is true—we are innately bad with only a modicum of natural goodness. The standard in our lives is the Bible.

Today’s verse provides the standard of God’s love for us—which is limitless and immeasurable. Because our hope is in Christ, our priorities and standards come from God’s principles, which we carry out through our commitments. The Bible also delineates God’s standard of holiness—perfection. Therefore, we know that we are natural born sinners incapable of meeting His standard. But because He so loved the world, He commissioned His only Son to step down from heaven to live perfectly, die sacrificially, and rise bodily; that whosoever believes in Him will receive eternal life. Jesus set us free from sin and death, and now when God sees us He sees the righteousness of Christ. So, God doesn’t expect us to live perfectly, but to live honorably with integrity. Our life standards are to love God, love others unconditionally, practice humility, seek purity, obey His commands, and share the love of Christ with the lost. Is that your standard operating procedure?

Pray

Father God, thank You for sending Jesus to die for my sins and rise again. Help me today to remain humble and guide me to love others as I love myself.

Act

Do you have a life verse? If you don’t, consider selecting one as you read your Bible throughout the week. Proverbs 3:5-6 is a great place to start.

 

Monday

March 13, 2017

Take It In

Read

Exodus 18:8-9, “Moses told his father-in-law about everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the Lord had saved them.  Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians.”

Think

When miraculous things happen in our lives we can’t wait to tell somebody about it. It’s especially gratifying when the person we tell shares our enthusiasm as they listen. That’s probably what Moses was experiencing as he told his father-in-law, Jethro, about all the amazing things God had done for the Israelites. The story was so amazing, in fact, that it led Jethro to conclude that the God of the Israelites was the one and only true God.

There are important lessons that can be taken from both of these men. They truly listened and gained from what each other had to say. What Moses shared with Jethro changed his life forever as he was introduced to the Almighty GOD! Jethro’s concern for Moses led him to share some words of wisdom that also brought about life-change. This insight jolted Moses back into the correct direction. He awoke to the realization that he wasn’t on target with God’s plan and purpose, thus he took action. Thereby, not only did this improve his life, but that of God’s people as well. God puts us in the path of people every day that have stories to tell and wisdom to share, and we must  be willing to listen. And, with each new day, we need to be willing to share what God has done in our lives with someone living outside of the family of God.

Pray

Father God, open my eyes to those you place in my path every day. Open my ears to listen and my mind to consider what they have to say. Open my heart to receive advice with a spirit of humility.  And help me to remain alert to share Your love and grace with someone still living in darkness.

Act

Be intentional about not just hearing the people who speak to you today, but listen to them also. Additionally, be mindful to inquire and ask questions, because we are often only one or two questions away from a breakthrough.

 

Week 2

Friday

March 10, 2017

Leading Past the Likes

Read

Hebrews 13:7, “Hebrews 13:7 “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”

Think

We all like to be liked. We like receiving likes on Social Media. We often seek approval and respond well to praise. But likeability and lead-ability do not always go hand in hand. Great leaders understand that their motives, strategies, abilities, and decisions will be questioned. Hence, when an opportunity arises opposition awaits. When we try to make everyone happy, no one ends up happy including ourselves. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus”. This means it’s more important to take people where they need to go than where they want to go. Had Nehemiah worried about his opposition, he would’ve never completed the wall. If Noah had paid attention to the ridicule and mockery he faced, he wouldn’t have completed the Ark. If Moses had succumbed to the children of Israel’s constant berating, whining, and complaining, he never would have gone atop the mountain to receive the 10 Commandments or deliver two million people out of slavery to the brink of the Promised Land. If Jesus had tried to please and appease everyone during His three years of earthly ministry, He would have never made it to the Cross and we would be facing eternal separation from God! Leaders do what is right despite the fight, outwork the opposition, continue casting vision, and remain focused on God’s plans and purpose.

Above was the information, so here’s the application. When facing criticism, always consider the source, and critique the opposition. Look at their underlying motives and the spirit behind their aversion. We cannot afford to think our critics are always correct and question ourselves to death. Conversely, we cannot assume that every negative voice is wrong and that we are always right. No, we must remain humble and seek wise counsel. In addition, we never forget to look to the book—the Bible, and pray for the wisdom and discernment to make the right choices. Remember, the loudest boos usually have no clue about effective leadership. So, we keep on leading past the likes knowing that following God will take us to the greatest heights.

Pray

Today, pray through the four C’s: Acknowledge the CHARACTER of God, CONFESS your sins, show CONFIDENCE in God’s promises, and stay COMMITTED to being part of the answer.

Act

As a leader for Christ, invite someone to church; knowing if even if they don’t want to go, it’s where they need to be.

 

Thursday

March 9, 2017

Tragedy to Triumph

Read

II Corinthians 4:17-18, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Think

We like to root for the underdog. We love happy-endings and amazing accounts of overcoming the odds—going from tragedy to triumph. But victory is the endgame and only made possible by the preceding struggle, tragedy, loss, betrayal, or sickness. The greatest leaders often face the greatest pain, because they take people where they need to go versus where they want to go. God’s man Moses, experienced numerous tragedy to triumph moments. He carried the weight of 2 million people on his shoulders, because he bore the brunt of every struggle and uncomfortable situation the Israelites faced. How could they have been so blind to God’s provision? How many miracles did they have to witness? But before we get too critical, we must stop and ask ourselves the same thing? Where are we in the process, who are we blaming, and do we trust God with the outcome?

Let’s take a closer look at the memory failure, nearsightedness, and distrust within the children of Israel as well as the mental beating Moses endured after delivering them out of Egyptian slavery. God personally escorted them day and night to the edge of the Red Sea. They witnessed the waters part, crossed on dry ground, and watched as the water came crashing down on their enemy. They sang and danced praising God until they grew thirsty and then blamed Moses. God provided. When they grew hungry—it too was Moses’ fault. Evidently, they missed sitting around eating pots of meat in captivity. Once more God provided and they witnessed the glory of the Lord appear in a cloud over the desert. They journeyed on and again were in need of water. This time not only were they angry with Moses, they considered stoning him! With frustration mounting, he said, “Don’t tell me, tell the Lord!” So God led Moses to produce water from a rock—and even still they questioned His presence. You see, without playing the blame game, we’ve got to trust in our great and faithful God who’s never failed us and never will. Remember, Jesus’ death looked like the most epic failure of all time until He burst forth from the grave with supernatural resurrection power forever defeating death. And with Christ in us, hope prevails every time we pass from tragedy to triumph.

Pray

Father God, thank You for working through all things for my good. I know that no matter what I face, You are in control. I love You, trust You, seek You, and want to please You! In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Act

Reflect on the major obstacles you’ve overcome since knowing Christ. What are you facing that seems as if it will never bring about any good? Today, how can you trust Jesus to lead you through tragedy and into triumph?

 

Wednesday

March 8, 2017

Jethro Jolt

Read

Exodus 18:17-19, “Moses’ father-in-law replied, ‘What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to Him.’”

Think

We like to be right. We don’t naturally enjoy being told what we’re doing is wrong. So what about when it comes to receiving advice—not unsolicited opinions—but insightful observations? Jethro was the priest of Midian and was well versed in effective leadership. No wonder he was taken aback by the futile and time-consuming methods employed by his son-in-law. Moses had gone slow-Mo and needed a jolt from Jethro to pick up his Mo-mentum! Speaking the truth in love, Jethro offered some great wisdom and perspective. Moses could have taken it as an insult, but fortunately he had a teachable spirit and showed great humility in receiving the advice. Wisdom is a quality of the soul, and within this exchange, Jethro pointed Moses back to God’s calling for his life.

In this series, we’ve talked a lot about the necessity of skipping within leadership, but one thing we should never skip is constructive criticism. Accountability emerges from affinity. Who are you listening to? Usually the people with the most experience have the most to say within a climate of critique. The moment we stop listening is the precise moment we stop leading. Learning is a lifelong process, and great information lacking application is an abomination. Proverbs 16:20 states, “Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful”. Are you teachable and adaptable? Or are you in need of a Jethro jolt? Because when we land on good advice, we will soar to places we never dreamed possible.

Pray

Father God, melt away any stubbornness from my heart. Help me to be humble and open to wisdom and critique. Thank You for placing people in my life who care enough to speak the truth in love. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Act

Read the prologue in Proverbs 1:1-7. Then commit verse 7 to memory: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline”.

 

Tuesday

March 7, 2017

Let Them Hear

Read

Mark 4:9, “Then Jesus said, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear’”.
James 1:22, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

Think

Jesus said, ‘Whoever has ears, let them hear’, approximately fourteen times in the New Testament. He captivated crowds by the authority with which He spoke—and people raptly listened. In the early church, people didn’t have written access to the gospel. The apostle’s letters were circulated around the various congregations and read as sermons. How fortunate we are today to have access to every Bible translation at the touch of our fingers! However, we must credit those who were “hearers of the word”. Comparatively, our listening skills leave much to be desired. In our ADD society, we must remember that hearing is with the ears, and listening is with the brain. Are you merely skimming through Scripture? Or are you listening for God’s voice and obeying His commands?

What kind of listener are you? Some people are pre-occupied listeners. They can’t seem to give others their undivided attention. Then there are those that occupy space, yet their thoughts are a million miles away. And we’ve all fallen prey to those suffering from ‘Interrupter-itis’,  who sit perched and ready to jump in anytime you take a breath. This is the exact reason God gave us two ears and one mouth. Also, there are the armchair experts always on hand to provide unsolicited answers. And finally, although a rare breed, there are those who actually listen. They actively engage in hearing what others have to say. They empathize and wait until the other person finishes speaking. God listens and He wants us to be intentional listeners as well. Good listening is an act of love, requiring patience, and reflects a healthy relationship with Christ. Whether in prayer or in a personal conversation with others, we must remember to listen for what God is speaking into our lives.

Pray

Thank God for constantly speaking into your life. Ask Him to guide you in becoming a better listener and spend a few moments meditating on the name of Jesus.

Act

What kind of listener are you? Over the next week pay special attention to your interactions with others.

 

Monday

March 6, 2017

A Time To Skip

Read

Exodus 18:17-18, “Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.”

Think

We are all guilty of thinking that if we want something done right we have to do it ourselves. False pride definitely stokes this sentiment. Therefore, this errant belief stymies us from reaching our maximum potential. We get so caught up in the superfluous that we are blind to the significant. Why? Because we are too busy trying to please everyone, yet it’s an impossible thing to do. Moses had just led two million Jews out of Egyptian slavery. The Israelites had seen amazing things happen. God parted the Red Sea and led them in a cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. He had produced water from a rock and provided manna and quail for their every meal. And still, they complained about their living conditions to Moses. This led him to think that he alone had to sit and judge every dispute between the entire nation.

Thankfully, Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, helped him to see the pitfall of trying to do everything himself. He led him to understand that he wasn’t doing what God had commissioned him to do. He had far greater responsibilities awaiting. What if Moses hadn’t taken his father-in-law’s advice? Would he have been available to hear God’s voice? Because soon after, guess what? Moses received the 10 Commandments. Are you skipping the insignificant to perform what God has called you to do?

Pray

Father God, thank You for Your divine leadership and providing me with the discernment of when to leader-skip. Help me to know when I need to let go, when I need to say no, and when I need to take hold of what You have called me to do. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Act

Spend some time considering what major thing God has called you to do, that if you hadn’t yielded to His command you might not have done, or vice versa. What did you potentially miss?

 

Week 1

Friday

March 3, 2017

Keep On Asking

Read

Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you”.

Think

We don’t ask a plumber for legal advice. For health-related concerns, we don’t schedule an appointment with an accountant. We don’t call the police (hopefully) when our child is making bad grades. Instead, we ask the right questions to the right people to get the right answers. And sometimes in leadership, we have to ask tough, pointed, and uncomfortable questions in addition to receiving certain answers that we don’t want to hear. Nonetheless, we must always go for the A.S.K. — always seeking knowledge. However, there are two main reasons we don’t ask questions, and the first is pride. The moment it enters the equation, God exits, because pride is the forerunner of all sins. When we’re on the ride of pride, we cannot seem to admit that we don’t know everything and we don’t have all the answers. The second reason is fear. We’re afraid of exposing weakness. And once we know the answer, we may have to make some changes. God wants us to ask questions. Learning is a lifelong process, and in fact, many of us are just two to three questions away from a breakthrough.

Humans are finite and limited. God is infinite and limitless. So, there are countless questions only He can answer. James 1:5 says, “If you need wisdom ASK our generous GOD, and He will give it to you”. And, not only will He give us wisdom, He blesses us for asking! Proverbs 3:13 states, “Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding”. But here’s the caveat, when Jesus says, “I will do whatever you ask in My name” it doesn’t mean that we have a genie God always on standby to grant our every desire. If we want Him to respond to our interests, we must first be devoted to His. Remember, even Jesus yielded to His Father’s will in prayer. When we align our will with His, He will respond in amazing ways. We will never grow intellectually, spiritually, or otherwise, if we can’t humble ourselves enough to always keep on asking!

Pray

Pray through Psalm 25:4-5, “Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long”.

Act

There is a treasure trove of wisdom found in Proverbs 3. Read the chapter and journal the words or phrases that especially stand out to you.

 

Thursday

March 2, 2017

Celebration in Mo’s Town

Read

Exodus 18: 9-11, “Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the LORD had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. He said, “Praise be to the LORD, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the LORD is greater than all other gods, for He did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.”

Think

Celebration begets celebration, and a great example of this is found in Exodus 18. We often gloss over the first day of Jethro’s visit with his son-in-law. We tend to skip to day two when Moses received great advice and wise counsel in the necessity of delegation within leadership. Upon Jethro’s arrival, he was greeted warmly and invited into his son-in-law’s tent. There, Moses shared all the miraculous and amazing things God had done to save His people. Jethro listened intently and was “delighted to hear” such incredibly awesome news. Truly listening to someone is the highest form of honor. At Fellowship Church, we talk a lot about having the right ‘THEY’ in our lives, because the right THEY always have something to SAY when we do something great! Jethro responded in a celebratory manner. Then he praised God as the Most High. And in that moment he underwent a life-changing transformation, which leads us to the next celebration…

Jethro was the Midianite priest of a religion that likely worshiped a multitude of gods. However, he was familiar with the God of Israel. How could he not be after spending forty years with Moses on the far side of the desert? Until his visit, though, he hadn’t committed to the Lord because in verse 11 he said, “Now I know that God is greater than all other gods”. Then as an act of worship, he brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to the Lord out of gratitude for the mercy and deliverance God had shown him and his family. After this initial act of devotion, he came together with all the elders to share a portion of the sacrificial meal as a celebration in the presence of God. So, although he was not born into the Israelite faith, it was by faith after hearing Moses’ account of events that he committed to the God of Israel. This greatly applies to us! We are to bring our offerings and tithes as an act of worship to the house. We celebrate and encourage one another in Christ. And we share our stories in hope of leading people towards God, thus building new relationships and refueling those we have come to cherish.

Pray

Thank God for those who celebrate with you in the good times and stand by you in the bad. Ask Him to provide opportunities to share your story, and praise Him for His Almighty power, provision, and strength.

Act

Give someone a compliment, send an encouraging message, and smile at everyone you pass!

 

Wednesday

March 1, 2017

Two Great Questions

Read

Exodus 18:14, “When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”

Think

God’s people were coming off a major victory after defeating the Amalekites. Moses, who sat on a hilltop overlooking the battle—where he was supposed to be—came down and returned to his daily grind. His father-in-law, Jethro, was visiting from out of town when he observed Moses sit all day and serve as judge for every problem and dispute for the entire nation of Israel—we’re talking about a population of two million people! Jethro, seeing the futility in his son-in-law’s time management—or lack thereof—asked two critical questions: “What are you doing?” And, “Why are you doing it?” We should all ask ourselves these two great questions in every facet of our lives, especially in our service to God.

God is a God of order. The devil deals in disorder and distraction. He doesn’t want us to stay on track with God’s agenda. Is each distraction some horribly evil temptation? No, in fact, the majority of them are good things that hinder us from pursuing the great. That’s why it’s so imperative that we regularly examine our actions and the reasons for them. In response to Jethro’s inquiry, Moses (notice the irony in his reply) said, “The people come to me seeking God’s will. Whenever they have a dispute, I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and laws.” As the Hebrew head honcho, Moses should have skipped judging individual disputes. Unfortunately, he landed for too long and got caught in the wrong spot. He was NOT doing the significant things God had called him to do! Instead, he was distracted by the superfluous. None of us will likely ever be called to lead two million people, but we all have influence. As leaders in the home, church, at work, and elsewhere, what we do matters greatly. Remember, we were created on purpose for a purpose. Are you dealing with distraction or taking action within God’s plan for your life?

Pray

Father God, thank You for creating me to serve a special and uniquely specific purpose. Guide me, Lord, to regularly consider the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ questions, as I desire to stay on course with Your will. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.

Act

Over the next week, spend some time considering the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ questions in your life.

 

Tuesday

February 28, 2017

The Art of Leader-Skip

Read

Psalm 27:8, “My heart says of You, ‘Seek His face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek.”
Jeremiah 29:12-13, “Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.”

Think

Praying about priorities is a senseless waste of time. Why? Because, our priorities are clearly delineated throughout Scripture. The problem is that we get so caught up in the superfluous that we miss the important. Thus, our priorities are about skipping. Great leaders are defined more by what they miss than the meetings they make. It’s called the art of leader-skip and delegation. When we skip we are in the air with the ability to see farther and gain a more unique perspective. Of course, what goes up must come down. But when we land, we don’t want to stay on the ground for too long.

The Amalekites had just attacked the Israelites. Moses, wise in his decision, delegated leading the battle and selecting soldiers to Joshua. As the nation’s leader, Moses went to the top of a hill with God’s staff in hand to watch the battle. As long as his hands were raised the Israelites were winning. When he lowered his hands the Amalekites started winning. To secure the victory, Moses’ brother Aaron and friend Hur helped him elevate his arms. And by God’s power, the Israelites won. Had Moses been on the ground in the midst of the battle, or anywhere else besides the hilltop, the enemy would have likely crushed the Israelites. Only there did Moses have the ability to see the events unfold, and he gained a greater perspective because he was where he was supposed to be. Likewise, in leadership, to make the greatest decisions we must go where God calls us to go. When we prioritize His will, He will grant us the discernment to do what needs to be done according to His purpose in a magnificent fashion.

Pray

Father God, help me discern when to skip and when to land. Guide me in Your way as I seek Your kingdom and righteousness above all else. I love You! Thank You, Lord for calling me according to Your purpose.

Act

Here’s the phrase that pays: We skip the superfluous and land on the significant. And when we land on the significant our lives will be magnificent! Write this helpful saying at the top of your calendar or daily planner. Then take it a step further and post it on social media with #FellowshipChurch.

 

Monday

February 27, 2017

Task Overload

Read

Exodus 18:13, “The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening”.

Think

We live in a very task-oriented society. Everyday, from the time we get up until the time we go to bed, our schedules are jam-packed with things vying for our attention. It’s such an epidemic, that we constantly see articles and reports on stress management related to handling task overload. So, why? Why is this the norm? It’s because we so easily lose sight of the significant in the midst of the superfluous.

Moses had a similar problem.  He was one man taking on the daily problems of an entire nation. It seems crazy, right? That he would take on the concerns of two million people? Well, unfortunately, God’s man became so mired down by trying to do everything, that he lost sight of God’s purpose for his life. This same man who delivered the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery by the miraculous power of God, found himself essentially working in the customer service complaints department. So, what are you cramming into your life, right now, that is distracting you from doing what God wants you to do? What should you be focusing on instead?

Pray

Father God, thank You for all of the amazing things You have in store for my life.  Help me to discern between the important and the insignificant. I solely want to do everything that fulfills Your plan and purpose. I worship You with all of my heart in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Act

Study your calendar or daily planner. What do you need to skip to allow more time to pursue excellence in God’s economy?

 

You Say You Want a New Year’s Revolution

Week 6

Friday

February 24, 2017

Fig Tree Facade

Read

Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”.
Colossians 1:10, “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God”.

Think

Have you ever wondered why Jesus cursed a fig tree? It seems capricious and cruel, right? Well, He never wasted an opportunity to teach a spiritual lesson with a physical illustration. To answer our initial question, we must backtrack to where He was going to and coming from. Jesus and His disciples were on their way to Jerusalem when they saw a fig tree fully covered with green leaves. Hungry, He approached it only to discover it bore no fruit. So, Jesus cursed the tree and they went on their way. Now, you know the disciples were exchanging glances and shrugging their shoulders thinking, “What’s that about?” The men arrived in the city, and as they approached the temple, they saw people wheeling and dealing animals in the temple courts. This greatly angered Jesus, and rightfully so. He upended the moneychanger’s tables and drove them all out for disrespecting His Father’s house. The next day after leaving Jerusalem, Simon Peter pointed out that the cursed tree had totally withered and died.

In the Old Testament, the fig tree often symbolized the nation of Israel. The Jewish faith, like the fig tree that looked so outwardly supple, wasn’t producing any spiritual fruit. Jesus does not like pretension. He says His people will be known by the fruit they produce. So, we can go to church every week and occupy a seat, but if we’re not growing in our faith or truly following the path God has set before us, we’re spiritually dead. No matter how impressive our actions might be to others, works achieved through our own effort have zero value in God’s eyes. Are you hiding behind a faith facade or are you producing fruit? Because, remember, God will always uncover what we try to cover up and He cuts off what’s dead.

Pray

Father God, I want to be pruned and in tune with Your purpose. Uncover any deceptions or falsehoods barring me from being who You want me to be. And give me the strength to make wise choices so I can abundantly blossom with the fruit of Your Spirit.

Act

Read Mark 11:12-25. Then ask yourself, “Is my life producing fruit? Do people see Jesus in me? What am I hiding? Which spiritual fruit do I want to see more of in my life? What areas am I lacking in faith?

 

Thursday

February 23, 2017

Going G.O.M.O.

Read

Revelation 3:15-16, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of My mouth." 

Think

Isn’t it amazing how many internet acronyms there are. One website listed 668! And not only do more keep cropping up, there’s even one for a new phobic phenomenon called FOMO, which stands for the ‘fear of missing out’. It’s defined as “an anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media”. Hmm… seems ridiculous, right? Wrong! It happens all the time; it’s an epidemic. Well, sometimes in our walk with Jesus we experience FOMO about what’s happening elsewhere. But what we need to do is forget about our FOMO and think GOMO, which means ‘God offers more opportunities’ than anything people are posting about on social media.

Yesterday we talked about the importance of leaving the past behind, growing more like Christ, and the necessity of staying on track with God’s plan. But once we’ve committed to our faith, we might be trekking right along when we encounter a new challenge that befalls all Christ followers somewhere along the way—spiritual lethargy. In fact, in today’s verse, Jesus is rebuking the church in Laodicea for being lukewarm. Surely He caught their attention with, “I’m about to spit you out of My mouth”. Yikes! However, the key word here is ‘about’, which leaves a small space for grace. It makes room for reigniting a passion for the gospel. Yet it’s also an imperative command meaning don’t wait, do it now! Are you taking a spiritual nap? Are you more concerned about what others are doing than you are for what God wants to do through you? Forget about missing the meaningless, and be mindful of all the amazing opportunities God has in store for your life.

Pray

Father God, I take to heart Jesus’ warning about being lukewarm. Make me hot! Reignite in me a new passion to be active in my faith and help me to treasure my relationship with You. I’m sorry for allowing myself to elevate my own interests and desires above Yours. And I thank You in advance for all of the amazing things I know You will do in and through my life.

Act

Check your spiritual temperature by asking yourself the following questions:
• Do I depend on God on a daily basis?
• Do I rarely share my faith because it makes me feel uncomfortable?
• Do I care more about being free from the penalty of sin than being saved?
• Do I live by faith or do I always prefer to play it safe?

 

Wednesday

February 22, 2017

So Long, Yesterday!

Read

Ephesians 4:22-24, “ You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness”.

Think

We all like the idea of a fresh start or a new beginning. And as the saying goes, “Out with the old and in with new”. However, we also long for yesterday. We like to hold on to certain things from the past. Those ah—nostalgia moments, back in the day, and remember when’s… are totally fine—great even. But in our walk with Christ, our yesterdays, previous lifestyles, and former ways of thinking are futile—they’re no-no’s and definitely not okay! They lead to double-mindedness and duplicity in our character. Today’s verse says to ‘put off our old self’ by ridding ourselves of old habits and unhealthy appetites. This means we’ve got to shake off yesterday’s dirt and ‘put on our new self’, which is being clothed in the righteousness of Christ. The Bible also says ‘all our righteous acts are like filthy rags’. Huh? Before we knew Jesus, even when we were at our best and performed wonderful deeds, we were still filthy. Our number one desire as Christ followers should be growing more and more like Jesus. This requires making a conscious decision every day to put on our new self in every aspect of our lives.

We are all very familiar with who we were yesterday, but are we certain of who we are today? Absolutely! Our identity is in Christ. But if we know this and are striving to become more like Jesus, why then do we so often find ourselves playing the spiritual ‘hokey pokey’ with one foot in and one foot out of God’s will?  We don’t need to ask God for guidance in what’s already clearly delineated in His Word! Instead, we should pray for His strength to keep our past in the past and the fortitude to step forward in our faith. Remember, the Bible says we are not our own; we were bought at a price. Therefore, we must identify what’s holding us back as well as identify what God is cultivating in our lives right now. It’s time to commit to repentance and lay our old habits and desires at the foot of the Cross.

Pray

Father God, change my thinking. Teach me to not think with my own instincts, but to cling to the truth as it is revealed in Your Word. Give me the discernment to flee from past temptations and to run toward Your strength and protection. And thank You, God, for sending Jesus to model who and what You desire for me to be.

Act

Here’s the phrase that pays: “Don’t let YESTERDAY hinder your decision TODAY to become who God wants you to be TOMORROW”. Write this down as a personal reminder to put on your new self every day. And take it a step further by posting it on social media with #FellowshipChurch.

 

Tuesday

February 21, 2017

Spiritual Nourishment

Read

Ephesians 4:14-16, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ. From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Think

Healthy faith in action is measured by our growth, because growth is God’s method of transformation. Brand new believers, eager for growth, are often dismayed because they want their lives to change overnight. And many new Christians–although seeking life change—find themselves resistant to change. But as time passes, through the working of the Holy Spirit, we become more and more aware of our human limitations, weaknesses, and sinfulness.  As we mature spiritually, our desire to please and obey God outweighs our desire for rebellion.

The Bible says that we cannot simultaneously love God and love the world. Without the support of the body of Christ, we are subject to cultural relativism and conditional truth. Yes, we are to go into the world and shine Christ’s light—but we are not of the world. With full involvement in the local church we are refueled and revitalized every week to stand on God’s absolute truth no matter where we are. This means we are accountable and devoted to being the same people at church, at home, and in the world. And we require relationships with other believers who speak truth into our lives no matter the circumstance. Thus, our spiritual health soars when we are nourished and supported by the entire body—built in love, under one head—our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Pray

Father God, thank You for the church! Thank You for my friendships with the right THEY. Help me to be a person of integrity in every aspect of my life. I love You with all my heart, and all my mind, and all my soul! In Christ Jesus I pray, Amen.

Act

Where are you in your personal growth with God? Are you like an infant, being tossed back and forth by waves? Are you on the brink of a breakthrough? Do you consider yourself to be mature in faith? Why is it so crucial to not only mature in Christ, but also to mature with the body of Christ?

 

Monday

February 20, 2017

Worthy of the Calling

Read

Ephesians 4:1-3, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Think

People who don’t know God have a completely skewed sense of purpose. They have no basis for absolute truth. Living a life without God’s guidance leads to decisions that produce regret, shame, the inability to forgive, and a long list of avoidable consequences. But life does not have to be this way.

The minute Jesus enters into the equation, our perspective on life completely changes. Even the vilest lives riddled with shame and regret can be supernaturally transformed. Reborn through the grace and mercy of God, our lives become a brand new creation. And everything is possible through Christ who gives us strength.  Therefore, don’t let yesterday hinder your decision today to be who God wants you to be tomorrow.  Live a life worthy of God’s calling and encourage others to do the same.

Pray

Thank God for His discernment and wisdom available to us 24/7. And ask Him to help you live a life worthy of His calling.

Act

Read Ephesians 3 and 4 in the NIV translation.

 

2Gether

Week 1

Friday

February 17, 2017

No Greater Love Than This

Read

Romans 5:8, “God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners”.

Think

We love a lot of things. We love football. We love certain foods. We love our children. We love shopping. We love our spouse. Obviously, some of the things we love are weightier and more meaningful than others. However, in the Greek language there are several different terms which define the various forms of love. For example, phileo—like Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love—is a kindred affection, a shared camaraderie, and a strong bond between close friends. Stergo is a familial love. It’s a parental love and protective in nature. It can even be used to explain the love between a pet and its owner. Eros describes the passionate and erotic sexual intimacy between a man and a woman. Each of these are a vital part of our lives, but they all pale in comparison to the most important, foundational, and purest form of love—agape. It is sacrificial and unconditional. It is God’s love for us.

Without a solid foundation in Christ and an intimate knowledge of God, every other form of love can easily be manipulated, confused by emotions, and abused. Terrorists and gang members share brotherly love. Regardless of faith or lack thereof, people can experience romance. The most hardcore Atheists love their children, and they certainly don’t understand the love God has for them. The Bible says even while we were God’s enemies dying in sin and deserving of wrath, He sent His Son to die for us. This means that without God’s mercy and grace, without the ministry of reconciliation, our lives are devoid of purpose. We’re here because of His love and purposed to love Him and to express His love to others. To know God is to love God. When we are grounded in His love, all the other forms of love align. How great is that?

Pray

Thank God for His unfailing love and devotion. Ask Him to help you love others as you love yourself. And praise Him right now by saying aloud, “God, I know You love me even when I don’t love myself. God, I know you love me when I fail. God, I know I’m important to You. And God, I know that no matter what I’ve done or where I’ve been, that You chose me to share and show Your love everywhere I go!”

Act

Read I Corinthians 13 paying careful attention to the Apostle Paul’s description of love. Reread it aloud and notice the words and phrases that stand out to you the most. Then journal whatever God brings to mind.

 

Thursday

February 16, 2017

Matters of the Heart

Read

Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”.

Think

Most great things in life require great work. Making good grades is a result of good study habits. Physical fitness is the byproduct of a healthy diet and regular exercise. Promotions at work come from plugging away and proving that we take pride in a job well done. Why then, when it comes to relationships, do we so often give them our second best? In today’s verse, Jesus is referring to our priorities. That in which we invest the most time and energy marks the condition and position of our hearts. Whatever we cherish most drives our deepest commitments and controls our thinking, feelings, decisions, and actions. Therefore, true change doesn’t come from changing our thinking; it comes from changing what we love. What we worship the most matters the most. Thus, our heart and treasure are always intertwined. So, to see great return in our relational investments we must put forth great effort into what matters to God—the covenant of marriage and the ministry of reconciliation.

Great relationships aren’t built on this or that; they’re built on the this and the that. Men, prioritize your marriage over your work. Ladies, prioritize being a wife before being a mom. The enemy is always nudging us to prioritize “this” over “that”. But God is a God of the this and the that! He wants us to be a great a parent and a great spouse. He wants to bless us both vocationally and relationally. Remember, the God that spoke Creation into existence is the same God that wants to pour out His favor and blessing on those who seek Him first. Time is a gift that we must steward wisely. Date nights are crucial. And praying together is vital! In Matthew 18:19, Jesus says, “If two on earth agree about anything they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven”. Invest in the best and God will handle all the rest!

Pray

Ask God to point out any areas that you are not investing in what matters most to Him. Pray for encouragement to keep your heart aligned with His will. And thank Him for His constant guidance and provision.

Act

Memorize and meditate on Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”.