Month: April 2019

Replace Worry with Jesus

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Written by: Danielle Morgan

As we prepare for Easter and the celebration of Christ’s resurrection, we’re also reminded of His great sacrifice and the anguish Jesus experienced in the days and moments leading up to His death on the cross.

Although Jesus didn’t worry, we know He carried the weight of what was to come. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

Many of us struggle with worry and anxiety on many levels due to situations we are walking through, but we can be comforted in knowing that Jesus understands and has left us an example of how to face challenging circumstances.

Whether your worry is caused from work or family stress, strained relationships, unforeseen circumstances, health issues, or something else, it is a heavy burden to carry. Christ wants us to be free from the weight of worry.

Consider that worry is rooted in fear—fear of the unknown and circumstances we cannot control. As believers in Jesus, giving these circumstances to God on a daily basis is truly necessary in order to live a life full of peace and break free from worry.

1 John 4:18 says that “perfect love drives out fear.” For me to let go of fear, it starts with God because “God is love” (1 John 4:8).

We must trust Him if we’re going to give him all of these things we’re holding on to, and then choose to believe that He is going to work it out for His glory and our benefit.

So, it starts with trust. And in that trust, may we be filled with ALL JOY and ALL PEACE, so that we are literally overflowing with the hope that comes from the Holy Spirit.

19-Devo-4.16Thought of the day: What is bringing you worry today? Are there areas in your life that are weighing you down from the heaviness of worry and anxiety?

Prayer: Jesus, I give You ________. As I contemplate the weight of the cross and the sacrifice You made, I am beyond grateful that You paid the penalty for my sin. Help me to remember that my circumstance is completely in Your hands. I trust You and thank You for the outcome You are already orchestrating. Fill me with all of your joy and peace so that I may be overflowing with hope today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Jesus Goes First

John 16:1-7
When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Written by: Tiffany Robinson

This scene was days after Jesus was crucified in front of all the people named. These people were His friends; He lived life with them. He told them He would die on the cross to save the world and three days later rise from the grave to beat all sin and death. They actually saw, touched, and talked to Jesus, yet were still unsure if what He said was true. Immediately after they received the news that Jesus wasn’t there, they were encouraged by a young man in the tomb. He said the Jesus had gone before them to Galilee. They were not sure of much at this point, except for the truth that Jesus goes first.

Jesus goes first. It seems so simple, but there is power behind that statement. In everything we do, Jesus goes first. He went first when He died on the cross, and He goes first in our lives today. Sometimes our future feels uncertain and worry creeps in. But God is already in all of our tomorrows. He knows our purpose, and He has a plan.

Trusting in Him gives us power. It secures our identity to be based solely on Him, instead of on circumstances, people, or our own ways. He sees the big picture. He knows what’s around the corner that we cannot see. His timing is perfect even when we feel forgotten. Because of that, we can stand in the confidence that Jesus goes first.

19-Devo-4.15Thought of the day: Where in your life do you need to trust that Jesus is already there?

Prayer: Jesus, thank You for going before me in all things. Thank You for being there even when I don’t ask You to. Please help me to trust You in every area of my life. Thank You for dying on the cross to conquer sin and death and give me life. Amen.

Pass the Ball and See What Happens

Proverbs 11:25
A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

Written by: Nathan Smith

When I was young, I loved playing basketball. Every day that I was allowed to, I would go down to the park in our neighborhood and play ball until it got dark. There were always older kids and grown men there playing and without exception I would be surrounded by people taller and stronger than me. My saving grace was that I was fast, and I could dribble. But those skills didn’t matter when I was still getting blocked every time I tried to shoot. So, it wasn’t necessarily by choice that I learned a valuable lesson about the concept of giving out there on those courts.

I learned that I could contribute more to my team by finding an open teammate and passing them the ball. As I got older, I went from passing out of necessity to understanding how to control the game by always getting my teammates involved. I also learned that when people know that you’re a willing passer, they’re far more likely to pass the ball back to you when you’re in position to score instead of keeping it for themselves. Passing and sharing the ball becomes contagious and part of the culture of the team.

In contrast, I played with a guy in college who we called “the blackhole” because when the ball went to him it wasn’t coming back out. Eventually no one would pass him the ball unless he was wide open and we had no other choice. It sucked the life out of our team.

The amazing thing is life is very similar to basketball in that way. When we are unselfish, we begin to experience more of God’s blessing. The more we give, the more it becomes contagious to the people around us. The more we give, the more we experience contentment with the things we have. But when we are selfish, everything around us changes and just makes life not as fun. Whatever God is challenging you to give, my encouragement would be to try passing the ball and see what happens.

19-Devo-4.12 (1)Prayer: God help me to be generous. Help me not to be someone that gives or serves out of a sense of duty. I pray that I can become the type of person that is constantly surrounded by a culture of giving and unselfishness. Help me be the type of person that others find refreshing and help me enrich the lives of the people You’ve put around me.

Full Circle Generosity

2 Corinthians 9:11
You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

Written by: Shannon Swenson

God made the first move when it comes to generosity. And the second. And the third. From the beginning of creation to the here and now, He has been abundantly, exponentially more generous with us than we could ever really add up in our heads.

The Bible tells us throughout that we are blessed to be a blessing and that when we trust God with our first fruits and the whole of our lives, we will be blessed.

I call that full circle generosity. I spent so much time trying to wrap my mind around the lavish love of God and the endless supply of His grace and mercy towards me. And then, I realized that “trying to figure it out” was not going to be possible on this side of heaven and my time is better spent learning to give and serve like Jesus does.

It blows my mind that when I do what He asks, I am somehow the one that receives the blessings.  I literally just weep tears of joy for having the opportunity to see front-row miracles. When I think about the things we don’t get to see up close but that we know are happening, I become undone. It makes no sense to me, but how do you ever really completely understand the full-circle, radical generosity of God?

One day, we will all sit down face to face with Jesus and ask these questions. Although, when we see His face in the flesh will it even matter?

Generosity in the form of money is multiplied and stretched in God’s economy when the heart behind the giving is out of worship, not guilt. What God can do through our giving and serving is not limited to what we can provide.

There are so many other ways that we can be generous. In fact, it ought to be my intention and action plan to do all of it. To follow Jesus, I need to do what He does, right? Notice it’s not just “think what He thinks” or “say what He says”—it’s “do what He does.” Following is an action word.

The scriptures say that we will be enriched, and that what we do will result in thanksgiving. The joy that comes as a result of our enriched lives is the first fruit of our love for Jesus. People will know us by our love, our joy, and how we give and serve so that His mission is accomplished, and more people would come to meet, know and follow Him.

19-Devo-4.4 (1)Prayer: Father God, thank You that You truly are a give-first God and that You save second, and that we get to live on the rest. We get to live on the joy and abundance of a life spent loving You and others well because You sent a Savior and we have chosen to follow You. Give us courage to share the gospel in our actions, help us to trust You for all provision, and may Your name be glorified to the ends of the earth. In Jesus’ name, amen.

When Thoughts Become Action

2 Corinthians 8:1-9
“And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you — see that you also excel in this grace of giving.

I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

Written by: Jimmy Leaf

In this passage Paul is writing to the Corinthians praising them for their faith, speech, knowledge, and desire to love. But then He asks them not to merely speak about love, but also to practice it through their giving. He gives the Corinthians an example of the joyful giving of the Macedonians, who were poor by comparison. Through their humble giving and trust in God’s provision, His grace was given to them.

How many of us have a friend in need? How many of us talk about going on a mission trip? Maybe you hear about the incredible life change that is happening in our church and you want to be a part of it. But that is where it stops—you just think about it. It is when our thoughts become action that our love and faith become reality. We serve a big God! When we take that first step in faith and apply our love, God’s grace becomes sufficient for us and we find ourselves drawing closer to Him.

It’s the last part of the scripture that always gets me! It is the example of Jesus, who was rich and yet became poor so that we may become rich, that inspires us into action. How else should we live our lives but to joyfully give and trust in God’s provision?

19-Devo-4.10Thought of the Day: Paul lifted up an unforgettable example of the Macedonians’ heart in how they joyfully gave of themselves. They were an example for all of God’s people then and today. Paul urged the Corinthians to learn from them and to share cheerfully and wholeheartedly in the ministry of giving. We must encourage one another to give and serve with generosity and joy, just as Jesus did.

Are there any areas in your life you feel God motivating you to give or serve? What is keeping you back from taking that first step in faith?

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for the example we have in Jesus. We pray for the faith, wisdom, and courage to apply our love and draw closer to You. May Your grace be in our lives as we worship You through our giving and serving.  Amen!