Month: April 2019

From the Couch to the Moon

Matthew 14:29
“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

Written by: Ian Rock

Early in the Space Race of the 1960s, John F. Kennedy made the declaration that by the end of the decade, the United States would send man to the moon. As exciting as it was, the technology for such an expedition didn’t even fully exist yet. Over the following years, large teams of scientists and engineers worked tirelessly to create the plan and tools necessary to reach the goal.

As technology readied, and after years of tests, it was time to take the first step. The first Apollo mission ended in a catastrophic failure on the launchpad, dealing a heavy blow to the space program. Determined to keep moving forward, adjustments were made and additional missions were planned. The next four manned missions, Apollo 7 through 10, involved either orbiting the earth or the moon, and advanced testing of the equipment. It wasn’t until the 11th mission that man stepped foot on the moon. That “one small step and one giant leap” was the culmination of thousands of hours of work, research, and effort. However, none of it would have happened if steps had not been taken after JFK’s challenge.

In Matthew 14, Jesus invites Peter out onto the water. It was a pretty wild request. No man, other than Jesus, had ever walked on water. There were infinite logical reasons to why it wouldn’t work, but Peter decided to take the step of faith.

When Jesus asks us to follow Him, He isn’t expecting us to go from our couch to the moon in one step. He knows that it will take time and effort to change habits, attitudes, and actions. Like any loving Father, He doesn’t expect us to know how to walk if we’ve never taken a step. Jesus isn’t asking us to instantly perfect ourselves; He’s simply asking us to move.

Unafraid Devo 4.30Thought of the day: What is one step you can take to follow Jesus more closely? What holds you back from taking that step?

Prayer: Jesus, thank You for not leaving me where I am, and always calling me to greater things. Give me the courage to take that first step, and to continue to trust You even when I fall.

Run with Endurance

Hebrews 12:1-3
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Written by: Kyle Glenn

I do not like to run…but I do it. I run for a number of reasons, but not because I enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being done with the run. I never regret it afterwards, but before and during I would rather be doing anything else. I enjoy the benefits of running, including the fresh air and the exercise, but the actual run itself…not so much.

There are many parallels between running and life, and the Bible points them out. Following Jesus often requires us to do things we may not want to do. These are things that make us uncomfortable. The writer of Hebrews encourages us to run, but when we do, to keep our eyes on Jesus. Whatever God has you going through right now, just keep moving. Persevere and focus on what God has ahead for you. What God has waiting on the other side is beyond what you could ever hope or imagine.

God knew that life would be uncomfortable, that is why He gave us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is also known as The Comforter (John 14:16). If life was comfortable, we would not need a Comforter.  The reality is the life Jesus lived led him to the cross; Hebrews 12:1 says that He “endured the cross.” Following Jesus will lead us to great joy, peace, and contentment, but to get there, God may ask us to do some hard things.

Growth rarely comes from comfort. Most life change and growth happen when we lay aside our desires and choose to obey Jesus. The benefits of following Jesus lay on the other side of faith. It is not always safe. It is risky. It is dangerous, but it is the best way to live life! The benefits far outweigh a comfortable life.

Unafraid Devo 4.29Thought of the day: What area in your life is God asking you to trust Him? It could be serving your spouse, going to serve on a mission trip, stewarding money God’s way, joining a ministry team, or working on steps of recovery.

What is God asking you to do that seems scary? The good news: You can trust Him.

Prayer: Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the courage today to run with perseverance and take your first step forward in faith.

Tootie Fruity Tuesday

Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Written by: Cheri Teeter

When my kids were young, it seemed so much easier to take time to share God’s love with them. We had morning prayer on the way to school or “tootie fruity Tuesday,” where we chose a fruit of the spirit to work on that week. Now that they are in their teens and older I know my boys are not playing tootie fruity Tuesday anymore, but I pray they are doing something on their own to spend time with Jesus and learn how much He loves them. My mom side still longs to be a part of that journey in their lives.

My husband and I jokingly have said that we need to text them to get a response, even when they are sitting in the same room with us. That got me thinking. Maybe I really do!

While on earth, Jesus met the people right where they were. Depending on where He was, He adapted to their language and their culture. His purpose and message did not change, but His delivery and presentation sometimes did. He did whatever it took to reach the people. He walked for miles, sailed seas, had dinner—whatever it took. I am sure if it had been possible back then, He would have texted too.

Texting my kids a verse or a morning prayer each day is one way I can communicate in their language just how much He loves them.

Usually I get a response like “thanks” or no response at all, but sometimes they’ll send a nice emoji. I send them all the same verse and prayer so, if the opportunity arises, we can all talk about it together. Texting works for them because I am speaking their language. The message hasn’t changed, but the delivery has for the purpose of effectiveness.

19-Devo-4.26Thought of the day: I wonder what message Jesus would send if He were texting you today?

Prayer: Dear Lord, change is hard sometimes, but if there is a way You’d like for me to change so that I can better share Your love and Your words with others, then I will try. With Your help all things are possible. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Out of the Lion’s Den

Daniel 6:23
“Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.”

Written by: James Rogers

There was a man in the Old Testament named Daniel. Throughout his whole life, Daniel chose to worship and trust God. Over time, God raised Daniel to power and prominence. He was even given incredible and accurate visions of the future, foreseeing the rise and fall of empires and the end of the world.

Then there is this point in the story when wicked men conspired to have Daniel killed. They tricked the King into establishing a law that would make praying to God illegal. Daniel kept praying and was eventually discovered. King Darius was forced to sentence Daniel to death in the lion’s’ den. As Daniel was lowered into the presence of full grown hungry lions, his trust in God remained and God protected him. When he emerged alive the next morning, King Darius celebrated and worshiped the one true God because he had preserved Daniel’s life.

God took a seemingly impossible situation and turned it for good. In response to Daniel’s faith and God’s faithfulness, others would come to worship God. In many ways, this story foreshadows an even greater story.

All of the Bible points to Jesus. The story of Daniel’s faith, God’s faithfulness, miraculous provision, and subsequent faith of the people is magnified in the story of Jesus. Jesus lived a perfect life and was obedient even to the point of death on a cross for the sins of the world. In a seemingly impossible situation, God turned it for good. Death could not hold Him. Now the whole world can approach God through a relationship with Jesus. The lion’s den is a foreshadow to the tomb Jesus would be laid in and emerge from. Daniel is a foreshadow of Jesus. Jesus is the better Daniel. Daniel’s story ultimately is not about Daniel…it’s all about Jesus.

19-Devo-4.25Thought of the day: The main objective of life is not morality. It’s not about just being good. It’s about loving God and loving people. As a result, we become more like Jesus and we point others to God. Your story is not about you. It’s all about Jesus. Like Daniel, we are supposed to point others to the hope we have found in God.

Prayer: God, please help me to be wise about these things. Help me to live a life focused on loving You and pointing others to Jesus. Please be with me this week. Amen!

Seeing the Light During the Dark Days

John 20:11-16
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!”

 Written by: Michael Burgard

I love to challenge myself. It can be something as silly as getting all of the groceries into the house in one trip, or holding my breath every time I drive into a tunnel. It always seems I’m doing something to put myself to the test. About a month ago, I had been at work all day and arrived home after dark. I opened the front door and as I made my way inside, all I could see was the obliviousness of darkness. I tried using the memory of my house layout to get to the light switch across the room but ended up stumbling into almost everything in my path on my way to it.

As I read the passage above, I can only imagine the heartache the disciples were feeling. They had given up everything—left their families and jobs and traveled hundreds of miles away to be obedient to the teachings of Jesus. After all of that, they witnessed the Romans crucifying Jesus and He was now laid to rest in a tomb. They must have felt like they had lost everything they had sacrificed to follow this man who claimed to be God. About six months ago, I personally was going through a similar time where life went from a season of comfort and victory to a state of sadness and feeling like I was walking in complete darkness.

Whether your current season of life has been full of great celebrations and growth, or if it feels like you’re going through a time of not knowing what is next, know that God is with you in every season. It’s the seasons in our life that feel like everything is going in the opposite direction of where we originally intended that God is actually doing the most work in our faith and relationship with Him.

19-Devo-4.24Thought of the day: Take steps to trust God in all the seasons of life, learning to trust Him knowing that no matter what your eyes see right now, He is good and faithful.

Prayer: God, I need You. I take a moment today to pause and say, “Come Holy Spirit.” I ask for Your help to reflect upon my heart this morning, allowing me to let You in on what I’m struggling with today. I ask to be overwhelmed with Your presence. Guide my heart and thoughts to stay close to Your word and love for me. Amen.