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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

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.

 

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?

 

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?

 

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.

 

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”.

 

Wednesday

February 15, 2017

Successfully Single

Read

I Corinthians 6:18-20, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

Think

It’s so easy to get caught up in the fantasy of fairy tale romances. Everything appears seamless, passionate, and perfect. But the keyword here is “fairy tale”. We all know life just isn’t that simple. In books and movies we only see a microcosm of the “happily ever after”. Financial difficulties, parenting challenges, and the struggle to set aside time for one another—the rut that befalls so many marriages—is omitted. As we’ve discovered this week, romance is a vital part of relationships, but love in action is the anchor, the foundational glue that makes marriages last. Yesterday’s devotional focused on marriage. So today, singles, this is for you!

The Bible definitely doesn’t shy away from the topic of premarital sex. God clearly prohibits it because He knows it leads to shame, remorse, rebellion, and funky and faulty feelings. Not to mention the obvious—unwanted pregnancies and STDs. Therefore, in today’s sexual climate, it’s crucial to set limits and stick to them. Ladies, if a guy isn’t protecting your body, he’s not going to protect your heart. Why buy the cow if the milk is free? And guys, if she doesn’t honor you now, she’s not going to honor you when she becomes your wife. Singles, you must date the people who walk in joy, the people whose first and foremost priority is their relationship with Christ. Run from difficult people—if a relationship is problematic now it will only become a greater burden after the vows. Lean upon God’s strength, keep a fire extinguisher nearby, set limits, and stay pure. Don’t defile God’s temple!

Pray

If you’re single continue asking God for “the one”, and pray for guidance in deciphering which dates are potential mates. If you’re in a serious dating relationship, pray for strength and wisdom to protect your purity. If you’re married, pray with your spouse. Thank God for one another and lay before Him any current struggles or concerns within your marriage.

Act

Reread today’s scripture. How does sexual sin hurt God’s heart? In what ways do you feel motivated to honor God with your body? If single, do you have an accountability partner? Write: “You are not your own; you were bought at a price” on a piece of paper and post it where you can see it.

 

 

Tuesday

February 14, 2017

Valentine’s Day Victory

Read

Song of Solomon 1:2,4 “May he kiss me with kisses of his mouth… Draw me after you and let us run together…”
Song of Solomon 5:10, 16 “My beloved is dazzling and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand… and he is wholly desirable.”

Think

If you’re single, take note of what’s to come, as this devotional is speaking specifically to married couples. It’s Valentine’s Day, the one day of the year specifically devoted to love and romance—the two key ingredients to a successful marriage. Obviously, love is the binding factor. To clarify, romance is a feeling and love is an action. So, great marriages, rooted in Christ, seek to fan the flames of romance on a consistent basis. And guys, remember, what it took to get her is what it takes to keep her! Romance is a great fuel, but a horrible foundation. Ladies need a sense of security. And ladies, remember guys need to feel respected. Therefore, if romance is the fuel, love is the engine, the driving force. Commitment is love in action. Regardless of the season, nothing should divide what God provides.

The takeaway from today’s scripture is this: “Draw me after you and let us run together, wholly desirable”. This means the Bible is the greatest encourager of marital sex! How great is that? With this in mind, here are 5 keys to ignite Romance:
1) STUDY your spouse. Know their likes and dislikes. Know what matters to them. Know their style, favorite foods, annoyances, and turn-ons.
2) SERVE your spouse. Inconvenience yourself on their behalf. We serve everyone else and forget to serve within the home. Make this a marital priority!
3) LAUGH—a lot! Keep joy alive and have fun! Not only is laughter great for breaking tension, it’s also a great way to end a fight.
4) PLAN special moments. Put energy and time into something your spouse doesn’t see coming. Put some guesswork into the romance. Don’t skip date night. Guys, remember date night is mate night!
5) SPEAK into their life. We all have enough negativity within our own thought life. Encourage one another. Celebrate one another. Use words that complete one another versus compete or deplete. Realize, no one can say it better than you can.
Work these things into your marriage and set yourselves on fire, it’s worth it!

Pray

Thank God for the capacity to love passionately and for romance within the covenant of marriage. And singles, pray for what’s to come. Continue asking God to prepare you for who He is preparing for you.

Act

Tonight, if you’re married, date your mate. If you’re unmarried and on a date, be responsible with your body. And if you’re single, romance God and go have some fun with your friends!

Monday

February 13, 2017

Aloha

Read

Ephesians 5:33, “Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband”.

Think

Aloha is a commonly known greeting for both hello and goodbye in Hawaii.  But the deeper expression of this word has some powerful meaning behind it. It’s a Hawaiian greeting that welcomes the other person into their space by sharing the breath of life. Two greet each other by pressing the bridge of their noses together and breathing in. What a beautiful expression! Let’s put this word picture in the context of marriage.  It is a special moment when a man and woman invite each other to share life together. But this mutual spatial invitation is just the beginning. There are intentional steps that must be taken in order for this covenant relationship to thrive.

In the scripture above, the Bible gives the two most vital components to a foundationally strong marriage – love and respect.  When a husband displays love for his wife and honors her, it gives her a sense of security and affirmation. Likewise, when a wife shows honor and respect to her husband, he too feels empowered and affirmed. These components bind like relational glue, producing the desire to learn more and more about each other’s likes and dislikes. Biblically founded marriages work—they are everlasting. What a great challenge to continuously study your mate in order to keep taking the relationship to a “holy notha’ level”!

Pray

Thank God for your spouse.  Ask Him to open your eyes and heart to learn more about them each day.  If you are single, ask God to continue growing you into the person He has created you to be, so that you can be prepared for whom He is preparing for you.

Act

Take a moment to let your spouse know you are thinking of them.  Share affirming and loving words via text, phone, a handwritten note, face-to-face, or some other form of communication. If you are single, take a moment to encourage someone close to you, letting them know they are loved.

Friday

February 10, 2017

Limitless and Immeasurably More

Read

Ephesians 3:17b—21, "And I pray that you... may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people to grasp... and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen."

Think

There's no such thing as love at first sight. There's not! Yes, we are to love everyone, but we don't walk just down the street one day and decide to be in love with a complete stranger. Why? Because, true love requires knowledge of both the head and the heart. But before we can acquire heart knowledge, we have to intentionally seek out knowledge of their heart. When we love someone it is due to their unique traits, personality, and character qualities that we come to know over time.

Now, let's flip the script. Love must have an object and we are the objects of God's love. He made us, He knows us, and despite our flaws and sinfulness, He still loves us. In fact, there's nothing we could ever do or not do to make Him love us any more or any less. Conversely, we can have knowledge of God without having love for God.  Essentially, we will never truly know God until we understand the magnitude of His love and choose love Him back.  And our great and limitless God can do "immeasurably more than we can ever ask or imagine". Can you imagine that? Oh wait, you can't! Ha! As the church, we unite to grow in what we know about God. And the more we know Him, the more we will seek to do for Him. That's our calling—together with the saints—to bring Him glory and to make His name known! Amen!

Pray

Thank You, Lord for the power of imagination and for doing more than I can even ask or imagine. May my heart be overflowing with Your fullness so I can love You more and serve You better.

Act

Today, simply remember that you are chosen, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, saved, sealed, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and YOU ARE LOVED!!!

Thursday

February 9, 2017

Power Up

Read

Ephesians 3:16-18, "I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and how long and how high and how deep is the love of Christ."

Think

When we think about the word power, we think of strength, a physical force, the President and even chargers for electronic devices. But in his prayer to the Ephesians, Paul clearly means that supernatural spark that ignites God's power available to us 24/7 through the Holy Spirit. He's asking for strength to build power, not only for personal devotion to God, but also in obedience and conviction that flows from the heart. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that enables us to receive Christ as the Lord of our lives in all things. Therefore, the human mind—finite and sinful in nature—cannot receive God's power. Essentially, He chose us before we chose Him.

When our hearts and minds are powered by Christ,  we should have a huge desire to pool that power within the local church. As Paul's prayer continues, he leads us to the core of the gospel message, which is to grasp the limitless dimensions and depth of Christ's love. A love so vast it requires a supernatural power to even wrap our brain around it. This is why it's crucial for us to gather weekly! It's not optional! Only together—united in Jesus—can we understand the full impact of the resurrection power that allowed Jesus to burst forth from the grave forever defeating sin and death for us. So the gospel is not a "me" thing; it's a "we" thing. Our power potential ratchets up the more we know. The more we know, the more we grow. And the more we grow, the more we will show all of creation the magnificent works of the one and only living God Who was, Who is, and Who is to come.

Pray

Father God, thank You for the gift of the gospel and Your saving grace. Teach me to rely on Your Spirit for faith, confidence, and power. And help me to know You as the source of everything good in me.

Act

Read Paul's prayer for the in Ephesians 3:14-21 in the Amplified Bible (AMP) translation. And, you don't want to miss C3 Nights tonight at 7:00! It's free and open to the public at the Fellowship Church Grapevine campus!

 

 

Wednesday

February 8, 2017

Making a Statement

Read

Ephesians 10-12, “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to His eternal purpose that He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”

Think

In Ephesians 3:10-12, Paul communicates two distinct messages. The first is a mission statement for the church. The second serves as a reminder that our relationship with God is not about us and that the freedom and confidence we share in Christ is due to His strength and not our own. Verse 10 states that the church’s mission is “to make known the manifold wisdom of God”.  Question: Who is our audience? In this scenario, Paul is referring to created beings in the spiritual realm. Christ’s work surpasses all barriers, physical and spiritual. So, he’s saying the church witnesses to everything and every being including Satan himself! A unified and faithful church is just one more reminder of his defeat as well as a powerful display of God’s truth and love for all of creation.

We like to make things about us, don’t we? How easily do we forget what our lives would really be like if we were reliant upon our own strength and power!  We even prioritize our own needs, wants, and desires in our relationship with God in prayer. But the key to effective prayer is to put aside our natural selfishness and autonomous attitude and make it all about God. Jesus is the mediator of our salvation and of all other dimensions in our relationship to the Father. Our confidence is based on what He accomplished! And freedom rings as we live in Christ, through Christ, and with Christ for eternity! Want to make a statement? Humbly praise God with an attitude of gratitude for His omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent power!

Pray

Thank You, God, for giving me hope and confidence in Your strength and power. Help me to not trust in myself, but in Jesus. And remind me of the cross every time my thoughts or actions are motivated by my own selfishness.

Act

Select a life verse that serves as a reminder of God’s strength, provision, and power. Proverbs 3:5-6 is a great place to start!

Tuesday

February 7, 2017

We’ve All Got A Story To Tell

Read

Ephesians 3:7-9, "I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of His power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord's people, this grace was given to me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things."

Think

In Ephesians chapters 1-2, Paul explains that although salvation came first to the Jews, that it was always God's plan—even before He laid the foundations of the earth—for salvation to be available to all humankind. In chapter 3, Paul expands on his call to preach the gospel of Christ to the Gentiles. In verse 7, he references his own conversion due to God's all-encompassing power found in Acts 9. In verse 8, he humbly refers to his own sordid past as a murderer of Christians. But miraculously, out of God's "unsearchable riches" he was saved. This means that although God revealed His plan for salvation, no one can fully grasp the vast intricacies involved.  So, Paul is saying that regardless of his former self, God chose him to help explain the mystery of the gospel. Verse 9 reaffirms that God the Creator of all offers salvation to all.

We can learn a lot from today's Scripture passage. Although Paul's mission had far greater implications within the foundational aspects of the Christian faith, although he wrote 2/3 of the New Testament, and although His conversion experience likely makes our own seem insignificant—our mission is the same: to make salvation through Christ known and to glorify God. No matter if we prayed for salvation at the age of 7, 37, or 77, God wants us to share our story: our life before Christ, what led us to Christ, our conversion, and life transformation. We don't have to be biblical scholars, ordained pastors, or even understand the entire Bible to explain what God is doing in and through our lives. All it takes is an otherworldly love, a passion, and a willingness to make the name of Jesus known.

Pray

Thank God for working through your past to lead you to Christ. Express your willingness to share your story, and pray high-risk prayers for such opportunities to arise.

Act

Read the story of Paul's conversion in Acts 9:1-31. Then practice telling your own story in two minutes or less.

Monday

February 6, 2017

Heirs, Members, & Sharers

Read

Ephesians 3:6, “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”

Think

In the technology-driven world we live in today, we are required to have logins and passwords to gain access to sites that have information we may need and to prove our membership of those sites. If we don’t have the correct logins and passwords, access is denied.  In essence, this is what the Gentiles (anyone who was not Jewish) in Ephesus were experiencing.  Their access to God’s promise in Christ Jesus was denied.  But Paul had good news for them.

The Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the amazing mystery that Paul had the privilege of unveiling to the Gentiles.  Previously it had only been spoken about to the Jews, the chosen nation of God.  But God’s gift of Jesus’ sacrifice was not only for them, but for the Gentiles too.  This means that, through Jesus Christ, the world can be co-heirs with Israel to God’s promises.  They can be members of the body of Christ; His church.  And they can share in the promise of eternity in Christ Jesus.  This is not only true for the Ephesians and the rest of the Gentiles in Paul’s day, but it is true for us today also.  By accepting the gift of Jesus’ sacrifice we too gain access to become heirs, members and sharers of God’s gift of eternity with Him.  That is the amazing Good News of Jesus Christ!

Pray

Father God, thank You for the precious gift of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Enable me to discover more and more of Your love for me each day.  And help me not to share it accordingly with those around me.

Act

Read Ephesians 3 in the NIV translation and bask the dimensional magnitude of God’s love.

Friday

February 3, 2017

Peace, Love, & Rock Your Role

Read

Ephesians 2:21-22, “In Christ the whole building is joined together, and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.”

Think

Who we are outside of church represents our relationship to the church, and ultimately to Christ Himself. Spiritual growth comes to an abrupt halt if we are not actively serving and engaging in the body of Christ. And sadly, the majority of our culture thinks of church in geographical terms, a specific location. However, in Matthew 16:18, when Jesus said, “On this rock I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it”, He was obviously referring to something far greater than a building with a physical address. Rather, He was casting vision for the unity of all Christ followers worldwide. In today’s verse, when Paul describes the church as a holy temple he’s talking about us! We are the temple; a dwelling place for God fortified and empowered by His Spirit. So, the body of Christ, both corporately and individually, is purposed to extend the reach of the local church.

The phrase “one another” appears in the New Testament fifty-nine times. We are to serve, love, submit, greet, encourage, make peace with one another and the list goes on. Each part of the body of Christ matters greatly to God, because He gifted us with unique talents and abilities that no one else can do. If we’re not leveraging our individual giftedness, then the body of Christ is incomplete. Are you rocking the house playing your vital role within the local church?  Are you inviting people to experience life change on a regular basis?

Pray

Praise God for the local church. Thank Him for the great relationships in your life. And pray for the FC staff and volunteers that will be working together to make the C3 Conference 2017 a smashing success!

Act

If you’re not already signed up to serve at the upcoming C3 Conference click here

 

 

Thursday

February 2, 2017

Peace Plan

Read

Ephesians 2:19-20, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of His household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone”.

Think

The United States of America was founded on one primary principle—individual rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And as American citizens, we are graced with countless freedoms including economic, religious, and social. Our country is unique in that we are the only nation under God whose governing authority was predicated upon the establishment of specific rules and regulations for our protection. In Ephesians 2:19, Paul mentions another kind of citizenship—one that surpasses all else. No matter where we live, our nationality, who we are, or what we’ve done, if we know Jesus then we are citizens in the Kingdom of Heaven. We are under His authority and protected by His power. Only in Him can true freedom and peace be found. But that’s not all—we are also intimate members of God’s household—the church. We are saved by grace through faith made possible by the gospel of peace and reconciliation. In this, God had a plan. Through the church, “the manifold wisdom of Christ” would be taught and made known. You see, Christianity is not a solo sport. In fact, the Bible refers to us a “chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God”.

In first century architecture, the cornerstone was the first stone to be laid. It defined the shape, size, and infrastructure for the entire building. Jesus is the foundation, the cornerstone, of our entire faith. Thus, He is the head of the church and we are joined together as one body with each specific member playing an integral part in God’s plan. Therefore, if we call Jesus our personal Lord and Savior and are not active within the local church, we will never discover God’s best for our lives. We, united in Christ as the messengers of peace, are called to be a beacon of God’s light within the world.

Pray

Thank God for calling you His child. Praise the name of Jesus. And pray for growth within the body of Christ.

Act

Read through Paul’s prayer for the believers in Ephesians 3:14-21 twice, paying careful attention to the beauty, detail, and power of his words. Then read it aloud as a proclamation to God and feel the strength and power made yours in Christ.

Wednesday

February 1, 2017

Peace Span

Read

Ephesians 2:16-18, “And in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”

Think

Reconciliation between two opposing parties requires one very vital element—a relationship with Jesus Christ. Our horizontal relationships with one another can only reach true peace when our vertical relationship is right with God. Merely ceasing hostilities is not a conduit for grace and harmony. Yet we often confuse passivity for peace. But peace isn’t passive; it’s active and takes a lot of hard work! Life isn’t simple and sometimes we have to travel through a tunnel of chaos before we see the light on the other side—and it’s worth it! The great thing is, that no matter what, there is always a level playing field for reconciliation at the foot of the cross.

Through the gospel of reconciliation, we can always find peace when we look to Jesus for the resolution solution. The Bible teaches us that when we approach someone else with a problem, we must humbly communicate the issue without attacking. We must be willing to take responsibility for what we’ve done wrong as soon as possible. And we must never simply apologize without asking for forgiveness and be willing to forgive. Restoration happens when we seek to do the will of God and remember how greatly He forgave us. As Christ followers, we should rush to reconcile and make peace with others. So, when our vertical relationship is intact with Jesus, we can span the horizontal and bridge the gap as we unite in Christ.

Pray

Father God, until I knew Jesus I had no concept of real peace. Thank You for your overwhelming love, mercy, and forgiveness. Today guide me to represent who You are to the world and to model Your peace that “surpasses all understanding.”

Act

Read I John 4:7-21, “God’s Love and Ours”. In this passage, the word love is used over twenty-five times. Why do you think John chose to use so much repetition to make his point? What does the phrase, “The one who fears is not made perfect in love” mean to you? Journal your response.

 

Tuesday

January 31, 2017

Peace Man

Read

Ephesians 2:13-15, “But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in His flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace.”

Think

In ancient times, there was a wall at the temple to separate the Gentiles from entering Jewish “holy ground”. Any Gentile attempting to cross this boundary faced death. Thus, a very real tension existed between the two groups. The Jews, God’s chosen people, believed that Gentiles were ceremonially unclean and less in the eyes of the Lord. But peace was not only lacking in a religious sense, but also in a true spiritual sense. You see, unless we are at peace with God, we are devoid of God’s peace. And what these religious elitists failed miserably to understand was that the wall of division at the temple wasn’t the issue. It was the wall of sin, racism, and hostility. Hence, they were at war with the wrong enemy. Nothing the Gentiles did could defile them from the outside in—it was their own sin nature that afflicted them from the inside out.

Jesus, the Prince of Peace, came to redeem the sin of all mankind, not just the sin of Israel. He obliterated the wall of separation between God and man. Remember, peace isn’t just the halting of hostilities; it’s the coming together of all who call Jesus their Savior—the unity of oneness in faith. When we are one in Christ, we are one with Christ, and therefore, one with the Father through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The gospel—the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ—is the only path to true peace. And once we’re at peace with God through the blood of Christ, then we become carriers of peace called to share His peace in a hostile world.

Pray

Thank God for making peace a possibility through Christ. Pray for any areas in your life lacking peace and praise Jesus for calling you out of the darkness and into the light.

Act

Read about living as a child of light in Ephesians 4:17-5:21. Journal what words and phrases stand out to you the most. Then pray through the passage allowing God to speak into your heart.

 

Monday

January 30, 2017

Peace Ban

Read

Ephesians 2:11-12, “Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands) – remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.”

Think

Peace can be defined as a halting of hostilities or a putting down of weapons.  In the book of Ephesians, Paul describes it as “oneness”.  For someone who has not experienced peace, this could seem like a foreign concept.  It’s easy to get caught up in the hostilities going on in the world around us.  The hostilities of others can easily spill over and create hostility in those around them.  As a result, that hostility pours over into relationships and those relationships begin to lack peace because of said hostility.  It becomes an evil cycle that creates a chasm of separation and alienation.

God desires for us to have peace, oneness, and harmony with Him.  But because of sin there is a chasm created that separates us from Him. And when we are separated from God, we are separated from our source of peace.  It is no wonder that hostility rises to the surface due to this separation.  Only God, through the power of His son’s sacrifice on the cross, can bridge that chasm of separation that sin creates.  It is the only way that sin can be forgiven and true peace can be present in our lives.  The result of having peace that only God can bring creates the antithesis of what hostility creates.  It bridges separation, heals relationships and creates harmony.  Invite peace into your life today by bringing your sin to God and asking for His forgiveness.

Pray

Heavenly Father, thank you for the grace and mercy you have given us through Jesus Christ.  Take this sin from us that has caused separation and hostility.  Let us experience the peace, oneness and harmony that only you can bring.

Act

Allow God to renew your heart and your mind.  Take a break and do as Philippians 4:8 directs:  “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Friday

January 27, 2017

A Little Less Talk and A Lot More Walk

Read

Matthew 7:21, 23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven… Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from Me, you evildoers!’”

Think

Many people who think they’re Christians really aren’t. We don’t like to talk about this—it’s a scary thought—but it’s a pertinent fact when only God knows what tomorrow will bring. Scores of self-proclaimed “Christ followers” may think their eternities are secure, but they’re not! Believing in and receiving Christ aren’t the same thing. One can believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died on the cross for their sins without having received the Holy Spirit, the indwelling of Christ in us. Satan believes in Jesus, and he is definitely NOT going to heaven. So, we can’t just talk the talk, we’ve got to walk the walk. We can’t live like hell and expect to be ushered into God’s presence. Jesus never minced words. He said, “If you love Me, then obey My commands”. Are you living out Christ’s description of love?

Today’s verse depicts people banging on the door to salvation claiming they had performed mighty works in Jesus’ name, yet they were not declared righteous before a holy God. In response did Jesus say, “Well, I used to know you, but we’ve grown apart”? No! He said, “I never knew you!” Yikes! It’s not enough to say, “I know Jesus Christ”. The question we must ask is, does He know me?! This isn’t an easy pill to swallow—but it is God’s honest truth. If we are active in our faith, then we are working out what Jesus has worked into our hearts. Thus, heaven starts here! And the time for salvation is now. So if you’re questioning your eternity, repent and invite Jesus into your life. Because, the most horrific thing ever would be to hear Jesus say, “Depart from Me, I never knew you”.

Pray

Thank God for His Word, ask His Spirit to help you be more heavenly-minded, and continue praying for the lost people in your life to receive Christ.

Act

Read James 4:1-10, then read it again out loud. What words or phrases stand out to you the most and why? Journal your response.

Thursday

January 26, 2017

Narrow-Minded

Read

Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.”

Think

What if every attendee, every single concession worker, all maintenance staff, the players, coaches, media and technology people, cheerleaders, and even Jerry Jones himself had to line up single file and enter through a very narrow door at the Cowboys Stadium? Now picture all 7.5 billion people in the world trying to fit through a very narrow gate. The masses would give up and look for superhighways and other paths of less resistance. The same is true spiritually. Today’s verse says that the wide gate leads to destruction. Following Jesus—the narrow gate—makes our lives 100% better, but definitely no easier. In fact, suffering is within God’s will to teach us, shape us, strengthen us, and draw us back to Him. We no longer wander aimlessly allowing feelings to dictate our next step. We are chosen and adopted children of God living to carry out His pre-ordained plan.

Jesus pulls no punches in letting us know that following Him comes at a price. So to avoid pitfalls, let’s look at why the wide gate is so appealing. First, by default, if we stiff-arm God we are unequivocally destined for doom. It’s also easier to bend the truth to fit our individual wants and desires than believing in and adhering to God’s absolute truth. The broad way leads to immediate self-gratification over the hope of eternity. Plus, it’s always easier to go with the flow than to stand firmly on the foundation of our faith. And finally, there’s no opposition from the devil for those already on the route to destruction. The choice is ours. We can experience difficulty here with the hope of a perfect eternity or live a self-indulgent and autonomous life and spend a Christ-less eternity in hell. So, let’s be diligent and narrow-minded with our eyes on the prize of someday seeing Jesus face-to-face.

Pray

Before God, commit to being more narrow-minded in your walk with Christ. Praise Him for His favor and countless blessings. And pray for at least four people you know currently on the path to destruction.

Act

Read Matthew 7—often referred to as the scariest chapter in the Bible. Then consider the following questions. Do you find it frightening? Does it make you fear for the lost people in your life? It should! So keep them in your prayers and keep on inviting them to church.

 

Wednesday

January 25, 2017

By, Through, and Don’t Forget the For

Read

Ephesians 2:8-10, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Think

The sinfulness of sin—the world, Satan, and the indulgence of the flesh—can only be eradicated by the greatness of God’s grace. After the basic tenets of the gospel foundation and acknowledging our need for repentance, it is crucial to understand how we are saved. We are saved by grace through faith—that’s it! God needs nothing from us. And there’s nothing within the human realm that can save us from His wrath. We’re sinners deserving of eternal death. Grace simply means unmerited favor, and it’s a gift from God when we choose to make Jesus the Lord of our lives. This, of course, means we have faith in Him and believe that His promises will be fulfilled. Here we must note—especially for new Christians—the marked difference between faith and belief. We can believe in something without repentance and transformation. The Bible says that even the demons believe in Jesus, and they are definitely not recipients of grace. This is the point Paul is making in Ephesians 2:8-9, but that’s not all when we continue reading.

Knowing they are saved by grace through faith, too many Christians conveniently gloss over verse 10. We’ve got the why and the how, but what about the “for” factor? We were created for works. True faith requires action. Because we are now alive in Christ we should strive for obedience, transformation, and growth. We aim to please God. We are here to serve Him and fulfill His plans and purpose for our lives that will continue in heaven. We are God’s handiwork created to do the good works we were intended to do before He laid the foundations of the earth. If we love God, if our faith is in His strength and promise, then we do the work. We should be trophies of God’s grace on display for the world to see. And we’re here to push the ball downfield for the glory and praise of God.

Pray

As a reminder that you are God’s handiwork, pray through Psalm 139:1-18. Then ask God to use you in great ways to further His purpose, and once again thank Him for the gift of grace.

Act

Read Ephesians 2 in the Message Translation Bible (MSG). If you are not currently serving in the house or are interested in additional serving opportunities click here: Start Serving

 

Tuesday

January 24, 2017

Incomparable Riches

Read

Ephesians 2:4-7, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”

Think

One bad mood, one off day, one impure thought, or even one cross look separates us from God. Incapable of perfection, selfish, and sinful by nature, we are destined for doom! We can choose our choices, but we can’t choose our consequences, and the Bible says the wages of sin is death. God is not capricious and cruel; His wrath is proportionate to our sinful behavior, it’s what we deserve. BUT due to God’s intrinsic love He has shown us mercy. This is not getting what we deserve. No matter what we’ve done or where we’ve been, God will forgive every sin. Is mercy available to all? Yes! Is it granted to everyone? No. The Bible says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Therefore, recipients of God’s incomparable riches have a personal relationship with Christ.  How great is our God?  Not only are we spared from what we do deserve, we receive what we don’t—His amazing grace.

It’s very popular to talk about God’s mercy, grace, and kindness. And it’s great to be joyful and celebrate God’s abounding love.  He doesn’t want us to dwell on our past. He wants us to look forward—but we must always keep in mind what we’ve overcome and the sacrifice that made it possible. This should encourage us to seek out people that will get what they deserve in a Christ-less eternity.

Pray

Thank God for His mercy and grace. Ask Him to speak to you through His word and thank Him again.

Act

Read Ephesians 2 in the New King James Version (NKJV). And don’t forget to invite people who need Jesus to join in on our God-led revolution.

 

Monday

January 23, 2017

Sin-i-ty

Read

Ephesians 2:1-3, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.”

Think

There is a fascination with zombies in our current culture. We talk about what we’d do if there was a zombie apocalypse and “The Walking Dead” is all the rage. The interesting thing, though, is although brainless, tattered, and torn looking monsters aren’t trying to take over the world, we pass by zombies—walking dead people—every day within the spiritual realm. When sin entered the world, so did the Law of Inevitable Consequences – the wrath that we deserve due to our sinful and selfish nature. Paul reminds us of this in Ephesians 2. It’s called the sinfulness of sin, the “sin-i-ty”: the world, Satan, and the flesh. Too often we let the world squeeze us into its mold. The devil is trying to distort our perception of the gospel just enough to thwart us from God’s purpose. And we are always faced with the temptation to indulge in God-given desires in ungodly ways.

This scenario has the potential to become a very sad song in our lives full of the hopelessness that sin brings. But there is good news – God can make that sad song better. We can break the world’s mold! We can refuse to buy into Satan’s lies! And we can resist temptation! When we lean on the gospel of peace—the righteous life, sacrificial death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have the security of life change and forgiveness. No longer are we among the spiritually dead when we live out a life of fullness, blessing, purpose, and passion for Jesus. If you’re among the living, then you need to be shining the light of Christ among the dead. If you’re among the dead, then seek the light of God’s grace through Christ.

Pray

If you’re among the living in Christ, pray for at least two “dead” people to accept your invitation to experience the great things going on at FC. If you have yet to ask Jesus into your life and want to pray for salvation simply say: "God, I admit to you that I am a sinner. I’ve tried to do life on my own and have failed miserably. I turn from my sin and turn to you. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead. I choose to die to myself and rise into the life you created for me in Lord Jesus. And in His name I pray, Amen."

Act

Read Ephesians 2 in the New Living Translation (NLT). If you have just prayed the salvation prayer for the first time, then click here to learn about taking the next step.

 

Friday

January 20, 2017

He Reigns

Read

Ephesians 1:19-21, “These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (NASB)

Think

We often forget just how great and powerful Jesus really is. We decaffeinate the magnitude of what it means to sit at the right hand of God, as if He is second in command or some assistant coach. But Jesus isn’t sitting in a press box coordinating our lives play by play. He is not sequestered in some control room making things happen behind the scenes. No, He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords reigning supremely above all things. The right hand of God is the utmost position of authority; there’s nothing or no one greater than He. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and end, the Almighty Sovereign Living God.

In this post-election season, there’s a lot of discussion about the President of the United States being the most powerful person on the planet…with access to the nuclear codes…and so on. But—and it’s a big but—as important as he is, the President’s power can’t even hold a candle to the God of the universe. You want to talk power? Power is the ability to give sight to the blind and make the lame walk. Power is the ability to calm a raging sea. Power is the ability to speak the world into existence and make the dead rise. So no matter if we are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, a high-powered attorney, a teacher, or a janitor, if we love Jesus and surrender to His ultimate authority we are all VIPs in His sight. Why? Because He chose us to demonstrate what His power looks like in practice. We’ve been called to live a life of obedience and purpose as His mighty power is at work within us, enabling us to make a difference everywhere we go to the praise and glory of God.

Pray

Pray for our country in this time of transition. And give thanks to God for His ultimate authority on earth and in heaven.

Act

Ask yourself the following questions and journal each response: Am I growing in Christ? Am I tapping into God’s power and relying on His truth? Am I willing to step out of my comfort zone and take a leap of faith? Do my words and actions reflect Christ? Am I living in a way that’s worthy of my calling?

 

Thursday

January 19, 2017

Here Comes the Son

Read

Ephesians 1:19-20, “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God's power for us who believe Him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavenly realms.” (NLT)

Think

The Beatle’s hit “Here Comes The Sun” is arguably the best rock-n-roll song of all time. Numerous critics have given it the number one spot on their lists of “The 100 Greatest Hits”. Within the lyrics it says, “Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting. Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear. Here comes the sun…” 2,000 years ago, John the Baptist watched Jesus approach the Jordan River and he too declared, “Here comes the Son”. Then God Himself confirmed the Savior’s identity audibly from heaven. Our Lord Jesus stepped down through time and space to melt our hardened hearts and to help us see clearly through the lens of Scripture.

In yesterday’s devotional, we discussed God’s Almighty Power and its impact on our lives as we strive to attain God’s wisdom and live it out. And we talked about our ability to tap into the supernatural resurrection power that brought Christ up from the grave. Well, not only do we have His resurrection power, we also share in the same ascension power that seated Jesus at the right hand of His Father in heaven. The Son came, the Son ascended, and the Son forever reigns at the ultimate position of authority. When Christ is the epicenter of our lives our confidence abounds. We know that in every situation or circumstance—from the uttermost to the guttermost—God has us where we are for His divine purpose. And without a doubt, like the Son, we too will someday ascend to our Father in heaven.

Pray

Thank God for life, eternity, and His unmerited grace. And praise His name expressing your love and appreciation for all that He is and all that He has done.

Act

Enlighten the eyes of your heart to God’s glorious display of power by reading the account of Christ’s death in Matthew 27:45-56, His resurrection in Matthew 28:1-10, and His ascension in Acts 1:1-11. Absorb it and read it again out loud.

 

Wednesday

January 18, 2017

Power Source

Read

Ephesians 1:18-19, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of His mighty strength.”

Think

Power must have a source. There are natural energy sources such as hydroelectric, solar, and wind. The electricity we so readily rely on everywhere we go is generated at power plants primarily using coal. As Christ followers, we have the most vast and potent energy source available to us 24/7. It is neither natural nor man-made—it’s the supernatural power we have in Christ! In Ephesians 1:18-19, Paul is not praying for God to empower us—He is praying for us to understand the power we’ve already received and to use it! Unfortunately, though, we frequently fail to recognize the extreme importance of tapping into this amazing force generated by the sheer love and grace of God. You see, apart from Jesus we are utterly powerless, devoid of hope, and incapable of pleasing God. With Him, we have the same supernatural resurrection power of Christ as He burst forth from the grave and put death to death.

The first step in applying the power within us is understanding we are not the source. Next, we must note the definition of power, which is the ability to get things done. This means we are not here to carry out our own plans and purpose; rather we are here to serve God and orchestrate His sovereign agenda. To do this we must pray for discernment and wisdom to understand how to put the power we have in Christ to work and live it out. We must also study and pray through Scripture and allow it to study us. So no matter what we face, we can firmly stand on the foundational power and promise of the Almighty God—Whose strength is made perfect in our weakness.

Pray

Thank God for providing you with the resurrection power of Christ. And as you seek His wisdom through Scripture ask Him to guard your mind and heart against complacency.

Act

Spend a few moments reflecting on times in the past when you tried to rely on your own strength. What was the outcome? Now bask in the radiant energy made yours through the Son and the impact it has on your life every day.

 

Tuesday

January 17, 2017

The Hope of His Calling

Read

Ephesians 1:18, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints”.

Think

The Apostle Paul was no stranger to understanding the parallel between physical and spiritual blindness. On his way to persecute Christ followers, a radiant light blinded him and Jesus Himself called out his actions. For three days he experienced physical blindness as God opened the eyes of his greatly hardened heart. And ironically, this man with blood on his hands from killing those who professed their faith in the Son of God became the greatest church planter ever known and wrote two-thirds of the New Testament. With this in mind, we should pay special attention to Paul’s prayers. In Ephesians 1:18, he prays for God to open the eyes of the hearts of those experiencing spiritual blindness. You see true enlightenment is the wisdom and revelation of putting God’s word into action.

When our hearts are led by the guardrails and guidelines of God’s word and the qualities that define His very nature and character, only then can we truly understand the depth of hope we have in Christ. Essentially, the better we know Jesus the better we know ourselves. The “hope of His calling” then transcends feelings and attaches to God’s truth. Biblical hope is the assurance of future fact—the ability to live by faith no matter the situation or circumstances. A heart that yields to God despite personal feelings produces the greatest amount of true hope, faith, and trust. And our spiritual vision abounds in the strength of knowing the here and now will always give way to the eternal. Thus, the eyes of our heart—our faith—perform at maximum capacity when we focus on God’s plans and purpose and not our own.

Pray

Pray for God to alert your heart the next time you allow your personal feelings and objectives to transcend the power and purpose of His plan. And ask Him to enlighten the eyes of your heart to truly recognize the “hope of His calling”.

Act

Do a good deed today. Donate a couple of dollars to feed homeless pets, help someone with their groceries, or buy a complete stranger’s cup of coffee. No matter the deed, simply help another in need.

 

Monday

January 16, 2017

Heart Knowledge

Read

“For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers;” - Ephesians 1:15-17 (NASB)

Think

It’s great to gain knowledge of a subject. Chances are that when you have that knowledge you’ll even want to share it with others. But in order to apply that knowledge to our life we have to not only have head knowledge, but heart knowledge too. In other words, to be truly effective we don’t just know about the subject, but we are putting it in practice and applying it to our lives.

This is really what the Christian life is about. Many times we will read God’s word, we may even talk about Him too. But we don’t really put into application what His word says. This is what happens when we know the Bible but don’t allow the Bible to know us. The words stay only in our minds, but they never make it those several inches to our heart. God’s word isn’t meant to only be stored away in our minds. It is meant to be applied and displayed in our sphere of influence and ultimately to the world. Truth known is cool, but truth applied can change the world. Let your faith show to the world around you.

Pray

Thank God for His truth – His Word. Ask Him to reveal His word to you every time you read it. Ask Him to allow His word to not just dwell in your mind, but seep into your heart in order to change you. Ask Him to help you live His word out in your life daily.

Act

Before stepping out into the world, ask God to help you see others through His eyes. Pray for those you will cross paths with today. Ask God to let His light shine through you.

Friday

January 13, 2017

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Read

Ephesians 1:13-14, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, Who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory.”

Think

With identity theft so rampant in our world today, we often have to verify who we are with passwords and fingerprints. Legal documents are signed before a witness for authenticity and notarized with a specific stamp. Such precautionary measures are nothing new. In ancient times, important documents and decrees were sealed with hot wax stamped with the impression of the owner’s ring. In today’s verse, Paul uses this word picture to illustrate a believer’s faith being sealed by the Holy Spirit—the essence of ultimate security. God wants us to be absolutely certain of our salvation. Jesus is forever branded on our hearts and His Spirit always leads us back to God’s promise and absolute truth.

No one walks into a car dealership and expects to buy a car without some form of down payment. No, the purchaser enters into a contract promising to make payments until the balance is paid in full. The moment we put our trust in Jesus we are given a very real and immediate earnest deposit guaranteeing us the promise of greater blessing and a Christ-filled eternity in heaven. Our names are signed in the Book of Life by the blood of Christ. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit from the inside out, and delivered from the bondage of sin and death by the outpouring of God’s grace through faith. Our identity is found in Christ alone. So in the words of Stevie Wonder let’s praise Him by saying, “Signed, sealed, delivered—I’m Yours!”

Pray

Spend a few moments “Facetiming” with God. Seek His face and praise His name with an attitude of utter gratitude, and let His Spirit guide the rest of your time spent in prayer.

Act

Read Ephesians 1 in the Amplified Bible (AMP) translation.

 

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