top of page

Week 12 (5/31/20 - 6/6/20)

Devotional Day 82 - 6/6/20

Ephesians 2:4-10

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. 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.


We are saved by grace. It is not a blessing that we deserve, but God gives us salvation because of his love for us. It is through him that we have forgiveness from our sin and the promise of eternal life. This salvation is not from us. It is not something that we concocted on our own accord, but it comes from God and we cannot earn it or find any way to receive it other than through Jesus Christ. It is a free gift to all and for all. All that is required is for us to have faith in him and accept his free gift. And since God has done all of that for us, we need to understand what it is that he expects from us.


I love the last verse of this scripture for today. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” This verse gives us the purpose of our lives, that we were created to do good works. God loves us and he blesses us constantly, and we are to use those blessings to accomplish the good works that he has prepared for us to do. 


We may be created for good works, but we often fail. Sometimes our sinful nature gets in the way of what we do. We may want to do good, but we miss the mark, we don’t speak up, or we get scared and run away. Sometimes we have our own thoughts of what we should be doing, and we work so hard to accomplish those goals, only to find out later that that was not what God had prepared for us to do. Sometimes to put ourselves aside and get out of the way of the good that God wants to do through us. God has shown us what he wants. He wants us to love him and love one another. All that we do should be done with that understanding. It is up to us to set ourselves aside and allow God to use us the way that he wants to use us.


Let us pray: God, help us to see the plans that you have laid out for us. May all that we do reflect our desire to follow you and to work for you. May the work of our hands lead to only good works that bring you glory. Bless us and keep us safe in all that we do. Amen.


Song: Gracefully Broken - Matt Redman ft. Tasha Cobbs Leonard

Devotional Day 81 - 6/5/20

Romans 5:6-11

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.


We are all damaged. We are all sinful and make mistakes on a daily basis. Try as we might, every day we fail again. We are powerless to change the fact that we are not perfect. That is the lot of all humanity. We are imperfect, sinful, mortal creatures. And that can be hard for us to hear. That prospect can feel discouraging as we think about all of the progress that we have accomplished in our lives as we move towards trying to do the right thing and trying to be the people that God wants us to be. But no matter how much progress we make, we will never be able to reach the perfection that makes us “right with God.”


Here is the good news, and good news it is indeed! “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Christ died for us even while we were sinning against him. We did not earn it, nor do we deserve his sacrificial love which was given to us through the cross. It should take a load off of our shoulders knowing that we could never measure up enough to earn his love, but that God does not expect us to. We are reconciled through Christ. He made us right with God. He took the punishment that our sins deserve, and through him, we are seen as being righteous. We are saved from the punishment that we deserve, and given the eternal life that we do not deserve.


It is because of God’s love for us that he has blessed us through his son. It is all because of who he is, not because of who we are. And we should praise God for that. We should give him thanks daily for what he has done for us. His praise should always be on our lips. Paul was never a proponent of being boastful or proud, but he does tell us in this scripture (and several others) that if there is one thing in this life that we should boast about, it is that we know God and that he has done amazing things for us.


We may be broken, but God never made us to be perfect. But he does expect us to try. As John Wesley asked all of his pastors as they were ordained, and we are still asked to this day, “Are you moving on towards perfection?” We may never reach perfection in this life, but that is ok. But God does expect us to move towards that perfection every single day in all that we do. It is God’s breath in our lungs, and we should use it to sing his praise and share his love with others.


Let us pray: Lord, we are hurting. And we do things that hurt others even when we don’t try to. May your love for us fill us with hope and encourage us to do the right thing in every moment of ever day. Amen.


Song: The Worship Medley - Tauren Wells ft. Davies

Devotional Day 80 - 6/4/20

Job 38:1-11

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: 

“Who is this that obscures my plans

    with words without knowledge?

Brace yourself like a man;

    I will question you,

    and you shall answer me.

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?

    Tell me, if you understand.

Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!

    Who stretched a measuring line across it?

On what were its footings set,

    or who laid its cornerstone—

while the morning stars sang together

    and all the angels shouted for joy?

“Who shut up the sea behind doors

    when it burst forth from the womb,

when I made the clouds its garment

    and wrapped it in thick darkness,

when I fixed limits for it

    and set its doors and bars in place,

when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;

    here is where your proud waves halt’?


Many of us know the story of Job. Stricken with sores and sickness, he lost his family and pretty much all that he had, just so that Satan could try to turn him away from God. The majority of the book is a conversation with Job and his friends, trying to figure out what it was that Job did wrong that led to his punishment. Now I have had many class discussions about how to read the conversations in this book, if they are to be taken from a side of humility or pride as Job and his friends discussed what was going on. Some view the counsel of some (if not all) of the friends as being misguided, some view it the opposite. Regardless, the whole book revolves around why bad things happen. The scripture above is at the point where everything is finally coming to a head, and God finally speaks up and addresses the situation.


He starts out, “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?” We like to think we know it all, that we can know why everything is happening the way it does. Right now there are some that believe that we are being punished for something. That God is sending all of these problems to teach us a lesson, whiles others do not. I am not here to argue God’s justice on our lands, but I do want to say that we do not fully know the mind and plans of God. Where were we when God created the universe? Where were we when God created the sun and the moon? Where were we when God created this world? We were nothing. God created the very dirt from which we were formed, long before he formed humanity to begin with. Who are we to condemn God for what is going on in this world?


We cannot always see what God is doing, where he is leading, or what we are to learn from any situation until long after we have gotten there. Maybe the fact that the entire world is now isolated and focused on communicating in better ways to try and maintain our contact with one another, is finally forcing us to have the discussions and make the changes we need to correct the horrific atrocities that have stemmed from systems and cultures filled with racism and hatred.


I want to add one little piece of scripture on to the end of this one from today’s liturgical scriptures. After another chapter of God “proving” to Job his power and authority (as if God needs to prove anything to us), Job replies with one of my favorite verses of the book. “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth” (Job 40:4). Job is pretty much saying, I am going to shut my mouth and listen now. When God speaks, we need to listen. And he doesn’t always speak in a booming voice from the heavens. Sometimes it is through a small voice crying out for help, sometimes it is through the sound of thousands who scream for justice. 


God is God, and we are not. He is holy, he is love, and he is just. And he wants us to be all of those things and so much more. Take a moment today and listen. Better yet,  take 8 minutes and 46 seconds and consider what God is trying to say to you. Assess your life, assess your place in this world, assess the change you want to bring. God created us to live in this world in peace with one another. Let’s do all that we can to do just that.


Let us pray: Lord, we are sorry. We have said too much already, trying to get our own agendas put on display for the world to see. Help us to see that your agenda - your will - is perfect. Help us to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem, because there is no in between. Amen.


Song: You Bled - Rend Collective

Devotional Day 79 - 6/3/20

John 7:37-39

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.


Water is necessary for life. It is something that we need regularly or else we cannot survive. Water is second only to air in what we need to sustain life. In our scripture, Jesus was at the Feast of Tabernacles (or the Feast of Weeks) and was speaking to the crowd. He gave them this gem of a scripture, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” To us, this may seem like nonsense, because regardless, we would still need to drink water every day for our physical bodies to survive. But Jesus is showing that he is what is necessary for life, he is as important as air, water, or food. It is through him that we have eternal life. Without him and his sacrifice on the cross, we are lost. We have no future. We are dead in our transgressions (as Paul puts it in Ephesians 2 and Colossians 2).


Jesus tells us that anyone who is thirsty, they are to come to him. If anyone is seeking, they are to go to Jesus to find what they need. There is no qualification for who is allowed to come to the water. There is no restrictions as to who can find the water that they need. God does not limit who can come to him, because he welcomes everyone.


All of us are able to come to God and drink from him to get our spiritual fuel, but how often and how much do we drink? Do we come to God just for a sip every now and then to kind of keep us topped off, or do we guzzle as much as we can getting more than our fill at every opportunity? And it should not stop with simply having a drink to renew ourselves. Jesus tells us that it is also to flow out of us. We should be fountains of God’s love. We should be focusing on allowing people to see God and what he is doing in our lives so that they too may come to the water where we are being nourished. Our lives should reflect God’s will in this world, and we should be people of love who seek justice and love mercy. God has invited you to his spiritual waters, and he asks to you bring others with you, no matter who they are.


Let us pray: God, we love you and we are grateful for what you have done for us. Help us to dive into the river of your love so that we are renewed and reinvigorated to work for you.


Song: Step Into The Water - The Cathedrals

Devotional Day 78 - 6/2/20

Romans 8:26-27

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.


We don’t always know what we need. Times are confusing and this world has been turned upside down. We may think that we know what is best for ourselves, or what we would like, but many times we are wrong. Our society is fighting about this right now. As we slowly recover from what we have experienced over the past several weeks, the country is starting to navigate how to interact with one another once again, and it is not pretty. People are fighting over whether or not to wear a mask, or whether social distancing is effective or not, and even if singing should be allowed in public. And those are just some of the more “simplistic” issues. Racism is rampant, hatred is being spewed in every direction we look, and bigotry seems to be supported more than it is being put in check. I do not know about you, but I am feeling beaten and bloodied at this point, and I know that there are many that have it much worse than I do. This marathon is draining and leaving us all weak, and when we are weak, we often don’t know what to do or what we need. 


There is hope though. God is God and he is in control. He knows all things and he knows what we need, even before we do. He provided his spirit to live within us, and that spirit speaks to God on our behalf. We may not know what we need, but God knows, and he provides for us. I think that the beauty of it all is that God doesn’t mind if we don’t know what we need. He doesn’t mind if all we can do is cry, moaning in pain as we seek some sort of comfort. Because he loves us, and he is there for us. And when we cry out to him he wraps us in his loving arms and lets us cry on his shoulders.


We may not always know what we need in the moment, especially when we are weak and hurting and in pain, but there is one thing that we can be absolutely sure of: this is not all we have to look forward to. As Paul puts it in Philippians 3:20-21, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” This world is not where we belong. We belong to God’s heavenly kingdom, and there will come a time when we are at home with him for all eternity. We live on this earth in the here and now, and it is our job to do our best to make it a better place. But we need to remember that this is temporary, and that should bring us hope knowing that there is something more, something better. 


We may not always know what we need in any given situation, but we know that we need Jesus. We need his love and compassion. There is one more thing that we need, and it is what God has told us from the very beginning. It is not what we need for ourselves, but what we need to do for others, and it is a necessity. We NEED to love all, regardless if they are different from us or not, regardless if they hate us or not, we are to love all people as if we were loving ourselves. And maybe then we may all start to heal in the midst of our weakness.


Let us pray: God, we don’t know everything that we need right now. What we do know is that we cannot live without your love, and for that love we are grateful. May we come to you in our weakness, and may we find strength in you so that we can love others as you have loved us. Amen.


Song: Where I Belong - Building 429

Devotional Day 77 - 6/1/20

James 2:1-9

My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.


I am not the most eloquent writer when it comes to pointing out the faults of others, and even in myself. I am much more prone to speaking to what we should be doing, rather than what we have done wrong. But I need to say this today, our world has failed in so many ways, but specifically in the fact that we discriminate. We all know that people are different and that there are no two people who are completely alike (identical twins included). Our uniqueness is what makes us wonderful. Our differences provide color and detail to the canvas of God’s creation, and it is a beautiful piece of art. We may all agree that we are all different and that our differences are to be celebrated, but why is it that we often group people together based upon one characteristic and then we treat them all the same?


It has been engrained in us to believe that people who seem similar in one way, are all the same. We look at people by the color of their skin, and assume that “they are all alike.” And it’s not like we pick out the positive characteristics that may be present and give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but more often than not, we focus on negative characteristics that have been biasedly interjected into our collective societal mind, which usually have no bearing in truth whatsoever. We deem someone dangerous based on the color of their skin or something else that we see. We even go as far as to say if someone is good or evil just because of the few things that we see from a distance. These are judgements that we pass on other people, and the majority of the time, these judgements are unfounded and definitely undeserved. 


Race is only one of a myriad of things by which we often judge people. In today’s scripture, James writes about discriminating based on wealth. It was a common thought that those who had more money were more blessed by God, but in actuality, many of them got their wealth through ill-gotten and sinful means. He points out, that discriminating based on a specific characteristic (in this case, wealth) is evil and should not be done. He emphasizes that what we should be doing is loving our neighbors as ourselves.


This country is being set ablaze right now, in some places literally. People are rioting because of the atrocities that have happened. They are angry, and rightfully so. People have been mistreated, people have been judged unfairly, and people have lost their lives just because of the color of their skin and there is no excuse for that. Jesus tells us to love God and love others. He doesn’t give us qualifications of who to love, nor does he tell us that we don’t need to love someone. He tells us to love all, period.


As Christians, God holds us to a higher standard. He has written it into our narrative as his people. We are to be a people who care for the poor, that lift up the weak, help heal the sick, care for the incarcerated, protect the innocent and seek justice for those who are oppressed. We have no excuse because this is our call as part of God’s family. We cannot stay quiet, we cannot remain hidden, we are to work for justice and equality for all people, and it needs to start in our own hearts first. Search yourself. Where have you discriminated? How are you working to fix that discrimination? How are you willing to stand up to fight alongside of others who need more support right now? Remember, God is the only true judge in this world, and he has told us that he loves us all. We should do the same.


Let us pray: Lord, our hearts break for those who have been hurt because of race, or for any other reason. We plead for justice. Help us to see with your eyes, that all people are in need of our love and support. May we be the agents of change that you want us to be and that this world needs us to be. Amen.


Song: God of Justice (We Must Go) - Tim Hughes

Devotional Day 76 - 5/31/20

1 Corinthians 12:3-13

Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

Unity and Diversity in the Body

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.


Today is Pentecost. It is the day that Jesus had promised to his disciples where the Holy Spirit would come to be with them. It is the birth of the Christian Church. If you look in the Old Testament, God’s spirit rested on individuals for a specific task. When that task was completed, it almost seems as if his Spirit left until it was needed again. But for us in the New Testament Church, God’s Spirit is always with us. It dwells within us, guiding us, instructing us, empowering us, and doing so much more than we could imagine. Ultimately, Paul tells us that the Spirit is given to us for gifting us for service for the common good.


The Holy Spirit empowers us, but it does so in different ways. It may be easy to look at someone else and think that their gifting is so much better than ours. Maybe we struggle with public speaking, where someone else thrives. Maybe it is with prayer, maybe it is with helping, or any number of different areas of life and ministry. Here in 1 Corinthians 12, Paul lays out nine different giftings, while later in the chapter he gives us eight (with some overlap). But the point of it all, is that regardless of what our spiritual gifts are, they all come from the same Spirit. Some of our gifts may be more visible, some seemingly more desirable, but they all come from God, and they are all important. 


We all make up the body of Christ, we make up the church, and our gifts help us to minister more fully to our communities. If we were all gifted in one way, who would take care of the other ministries of the church in which we were not gifted? We need diversity. We need gifts and talents to compliment one another and create new ways to minister to people in need. We need people with different upbringings and from different cultures to help us see new and wonderful ways to worship God and to reach out to a larger array of people. We need every person to use their gifts and talents — to use who they are — to find their important place in the body of Christ to make us function as a whole. Without that, we are broken because we are incomplete.


What spiritual gift(s) has God’s given to you? Have you cultivated it? Have you utilized it? How have you allowed yourself to be utilized in the church and its ministries? Our gifts help to make us who we are and are important to us as believers. We should be praying daily that we allow God’s spirit to work in us so that we can be the people that he wants us to be. May his spirit empower us as it did the early church to blaze new trails in being in ministry in this world, reaching out to more and more people, bringing them into the love of God.


Let us pray: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we bow before you this day. May our lives be full of service to you by being in service to others. Empower us to be your hands and feet in this world. Amen.


Song: Spirt of the Living God - Vertical Worship

bottom of page