Month: June 2019

How Often Are You Including God in Your Planning?

1 Corinthians 2:9-10
However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him— these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

Written by: Nathan Smith

Planning for our future is a great thing. Proverbs 19:21 says it like this: “Many are the plans in a person’s heart.” Each of us has ideas on what our future should look like and we recognize we should work hard to make those plans a reality.

The Bible tells us God is faithful; He is a loving God who is Holy, perfect, and just. These truths are written out, black and white for us to see. We can understand and simply believe because we see examples in the Bible. When it comes to our future though, things get grey. We do not have a guide that says what our future will look like.

1 Corinthians 2:9-10 states that no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has conceived. Then it goes on to say that God reveals things to us by His Spirit. We may not know exactly what our future holds, but we know who holds our future. God sees the whole picture and gives us a life we, at certain points, can’t comprehend.

There is a saying that goes, “Pray as if it all depends on God. Work as if it all depends on you.” How often do you include God in your planning? The closer we become to The Holy Spirit, the clearer God’s plans become. So work hard at your goals, but don’t forget to include God in the process.

More Devo 6.14Thought of the day: What would it look like in your life if you involved God in planning your future? What in your life are you trying to do on your own power?

Prayer: God help me to see past my own plan and follow You as You lead me in Your plan for my life. Help me to be so connected to you that I hear your plans more clearly. Amen.

Grace Isn’t Fair (And Neither Is Peace)

Matthew 5:38-42
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[a] But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Written by: Nathan Smith

My favorite comic strip of all time is Calvin and Hobbes. It’s one of those great pieces of entertainment that has jokes you get as a kid but then has a whole other layer of meaning that only understand when you read it later as an adult. There’s one strip where Calvin is complaining to his dad that he doesn’t get to stay up late like his parents do. He screams,“It’s not fair!” His dad just looks at him and says “The world’s not fair.” Calvin walks away with a frown on his face and says, “I know, but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor.”

The reality is we often feel like Calvin. We learn from an early age the concept of playing fair, but as we get older we realize that our parents’ childhood idealism of playing fair doesn’t apply to the real world. If we’re not careful we can become intensely focused on the perceived unfairness and feel like everything is against us. Let’s be honest, the concept of fairness and the perceived lack of it is what America was built on, but that’s not Jesus’ plan for us. He turns the entire concept of fairness upside down.

Someone once said that “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”Jesus wants us to understand that retribution only leads to more retribution and a desperate never-ending cycle. All you have to do is look back at the Cold War and see that “mutually assured destruction” is not the plan God had for us way back at the beginning of creation. Obviously national political concerns are a little different from how we live our lives, but on a personal level God wants even more for us to experience grace and peace. Peace can never be achieved through fairness. True peace can only be achieved through grace. Until we learn to give and receive grace like Jesus does we will never have the peace that God desires for us.

More Devo 6.13Thought of the day: What issue of fairness are you holding onto that is keeping you from experiencing peace? How can you practice grace today by forgiving someone? God wants more peace for you and it can only come through giving and receiving more grace.

Prayer: God help me to let go of the things in my life that I feel are unfair. Give me the strength to help me forgive those I need to forgive. And help me to forgive myself for the things that I hold onto. Sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve Your love. I want the peace that You promise in Your Word for me and I know that only comes from grace. Thank You, amen.

The Living Water

John 4:10
Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

Written by: James Rogers

In today’s passage, we find Jesus engaging with a woman at a well. As he spoke to her, he mentioned a gift God had for her. He also spoke with her about her search for meaning and fulfillment. She had been married and divorced five times and was now living with a guy who was not her husband. She kept looking for love and fulfillment in relationships and wasn’t finding it. In contrast, Jesus offered her living water that would satisfy her soul. What is this living water he was offering?

In the book of Jeremiah, God tells the Israelites: “For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:16). This was an accusation, for the Jewish people had left God and turned to worthless idols that could not satisfy their souls. Over and over, they would trade God in for worthless fantasies.

The living water is the love, grace, mercy, acceptance, and peace that comes from a relationship with God. God wants to be our source and our fulfillment, but we keep turning away. We keep going after broken cisterns that hold no water. We keep chasing the wind. Have you ever hoped that a job, a person, a vacation, or something else would leave you fulfilled only to find that it failed to produce lasting satisfaction? Welcome to the human condition.

More Devo 6.12Thought of the day: What in your life have you replaced God with? Maybe it’s your career or your kids; perhaps it’s a relationship or a hobby. Maybe it is a secret habit you keep under wraps. Jesus is saying to us: “The broken cisterns will always fail you; they can’t hold water, but come to me and I will give you water that will satisfy your soul.” If this resonates with you, I would encourage you to begin having a conversation with God about the things that you put in front of him. Spend time with Jesus today and ask him to be your living water. If you feel stuck, or if you need a place to go and sort this out, consider attending Celebrate Recovery (CR). CR is a place where you can tackle your hurts, habits, and hang-ups with other people like you who have found living water.

Prayer: Jesus, help me to see when I am chasing after the broken cisterns. Help me focus on You. Thank You for being my fountain of living water that actually satisfies. Bless You, Lord. Amen!


The Greatest Command

Galatians 5:13-14
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Written by: Robert Watson

If you had complete freedom to do whatever you wanted in life, what would you do?

If I’m being completely honest, my first instincts would be to hop on my yacht, crank up the music, contribute nothing, and eat lobster as I ride into the sunset. But there is an irony to life. Eventually, even a yacht can become a prison cell and lobster can start to taste like soap.

The reality for those who say “Yes” to following Jesus is that He has set us completely free for all eternity to be in a relationship with the Creator of all good things. So why use that freedom to run back to slavery? Instead, we are invited to use our freedom to do something counterintuitive; to serve one another. As we serve one another in humility we tap into what life is truly all about: relationships.

More Devo 6.11Thought of the day: What is one thing you can do today to serve somebody other than yourself? Commit to see this one thing through and pray for the Holy Spirit to teach you why God would make this the priority for those who have been set free.

Prayer: Father, help me to see why You have made loving others our greatest command. Give me the opportunity to humbly serve another in love today and give me the courage to see it through. May my life reflect the love and grace You have shown to me. Amen.

Peace Through Trials

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Written by: Jimmy Leaf

How many of us have wondered why bad things happen to good people? Why do bad things happen to me? I know I’ve had this question many times. Sometimes the answer is clear and sometimes it is hard to understand. However, in all things, I know God keeps me close to His heart and He feels my hurt.

This passage has given me so much peace through the years. I know God uses the trials and tribulations of a broken world to produce perseverance. He allows the fire to refine and shape us into who He wants us to become. He is the perfect parent, giving wisdom generously when asked and granting a peace that surpasses all understanding. He, who did not spare His own Son, walks beside us, knowing our hearts and wanting us to know His.

“Jesus wept.” – John 11:35

This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. The Creator of all things, God most high, would feel my heart and weep with me.


More Devo 6.10Thought of the day: God loves you! He is with you in the trials and tribulations of life. He wants you to have life to the fullest. When you cast your gaze upon Him, He will finish His work. He will make you mature and complete. He will make you fulfilled; not lacking anything. He will give you peace.

Prayer: Lord, thank You! Thank You for being by my side in all things. Thank You for knowing my heart and loving me enough to want me to know Yours. Help me to always keep my gaze upon You. Please Lord, grant me peace and wisdom. Amen!