Month: July 2019

Denying Yourself and Trusting God

Proverbs 3:5
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

Written by: Michael Burgard

Saying no to yourself can be one of the hardest things to do. We have grown up in a society that has taught us that we are owed everything we want. We have trained our minds to think we absolutely need everything we can see or imagine. We also think we must have it right now. Yesterday, I saw someone post a motivational quote on social media that said, “To achieve something you don’t have, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” It is easy to quickly agree with this quote at first glance. If we look at this quote in relation to our faith, the better statement might be that sometimes to achieve something we don’t have, we must be willing to stay faithful to what God has already given us.

We must stay faithful in the small things. As I have grown in my faith, I have discovered materialistic objects are less important. When we can choose to say no to ourselves and our desires, we are able to lean on God and express thankfulness for what He has already given us.

Jonah Devo 7.24Thought of the day: When you struggle with fulfilling your desires and contentment, try asking God to give you strength and change your heart.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:12-13

Prayer: God, thank You for how You provide for me daily. Help me to trust You with my life, wants, desires, and needs. Give me the wisdom and strength to be content with the blessings You have given me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

A Second Chance to Obey

Jonah 3:1-4
Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.  Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.

Written by: Kyle Glenn

There have been times in my life when I thought someone I knew would never meet Jesus. I refused to share with them, and I made excuses for them. The good news is this: God is more gracious than I am. God loves better than I do.

Jonah had a preferred future in his mind for the city of Nineveh, and it was unmerciful. He never thought that an evil and ruthless king would repent, and he had already rejected God’s grace for them. He was their “no.” Fortunately, God overcame Jonah’s hard heart and saved an entire city.

God cares more about saving a person than He does about how I feel about Him saving. My disobedience is not going to thwart the mission of God. He will be patient with me and will ask me a second time, and sometimes a third and a fourth time. In the end, God’s plans will win the day, not mine. God invites you and me into His story of saving people we know: friends, family, neighbors, and even our enemies.

When it comes to helping people meet Jesus, do not be someone’s “no.” Our role is to pray and invite, and then trust God with the rest.

Jonah Devo 7.23Thought of the day: Who is God calling you to invite, maybe for a second time? Offer to meet them in the lobby and sit together, or possibly go to a meal before or after the service. Be available and willing and then trust God with the rest.

Prayer: God, help me to see people as You see them. Remove any excuses and reasons I have and give me Your grace and love for people. Amen.

Regardless of Circumstance

Philippians 16:25-33
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.

Written by: Brett Humphrey

Even though Paul and Silas had been ridiculed, beaten, and locked in chains in the worst part of the prison, they still kept their focus on Jesus. They did what only they could do, which at that point was worshiping God through songs and prayer. God did what only He could do, which was work a miracle and create an opportunity for Paul and Silas to share about Jesus. The other thing God did was prepare the people in the prison and the jailer to open their hearts and minds to hear about Jesus. None of the prisoners escaped when they had a chance. Instead, they listened to Paul and Silas share about Jesus. The jailer said yes to Jesus and his life was changed.

I haven’t ever found myself in a situation exactly like the one in this passage, but I have had opportunities to share Jesus with people I was sure wouldn’t be interested. In those cases, I acted on the prompting I received from the Holy Spirit. It has taken me a while to recognize this prompting. Usually it takes the form of a thought that I should talk to a person, ask someone if I could pray for them, or go out of my way to help someone else. When I look back on those times, I realize I was doing what God wanted me to do and am confident He will continue to do what only He can do in their lives. Those times I have missed the prompting, I pray that God used someone else and they were listening better than I was.

We don’t want to be someone else’s “no.” We don’t want to answer for them before they have had the chance to answer for themselves.

Ask the Holy Spirit to prompt you with a name of someone to invite and then invite that person. Let God do what He can do in their lives while you do what you can do. Invite them to come to church with you, serve with you, join you for a meal, or engage in a conversation about Jesus. Regardless of their circumstances, God may already be working in their lives and He wants you to be part of their story.

Jonah Devo 7.22Thought of the day: Who is a person you need to invite to come to church with you, serve with you, join you for a meal, or engage in a conversation about Jesus?

Prayer: Holy Spirit, please help me recognize times this week when You are prompting me to invite someone to take their next step with You. Please give me the courage to do what only I can do so You can do what only You can do. Thank You for choosing to work through me to help others meet, know, and follow Jesus. Amen.

Rise and Go

Acts 9:10-12 – “Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.”

Written by: Russ Ripley

In Acts 9 we read about Saul of Tarsus, a persecutor of the early followers of Jesus. He had received letters to the synagogues in Damascus telling him that if he found any followers of Jesus he could “bring them bound to Jerusalem.” The followers of Jesus in Damascus knew about Saul and were very afraid of him. On the way to Damascus, Saul had a miraculous encounter with God and, as a result, became blind. His traveling companions took him to Damascus.

God then speaks to a Jesus follower named Ananias in a vision and tells him to go to the house where Saul is staying. Ananias has real concerns about what the Lord is telling him to do. He reminds the Lord of “how much evil he (Saul) has done to the saints in Jerusalem.” But the Lord does not change His instructions. In that moment, Ananias has a decision to make. Does he do what the Lord has told him to do, or does he go as far from Saul as he can?

Ananias obeys what God told him to do and Saul receives his sight and is filled with the Holy Spirit. Not only does Saul receive healing but in verse 20 it says, “And immediately he (Saul) proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying “He (Jesus) is the Son of God.”

Ananias could have let fear and apprehension stop him from obeying God, but he didn’t. He trusted God and the blessings He brought about through the Apostle Paul (formerly Saul) are still being felt today.

Jonah Devo 7.19Thought of the day: Is there something God is leading you to do that feels very scary? You can trust God to help you in whatever it is. He loves you and is faithful to be with you through it.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to trust and obey You. I know it is always better to do what You say. Thank You for leading me today. Amen.

Follow His Example

Genesis 12:1-3 NIV
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

Written by: Matt Swartz

What should not be surprising to Jonah was that God would ask him to go to Nineveh and tell the people there that God loves them and they needed to repent. He would have been very familiar with these verses today from Genesis 12 that clearly state that God’s plan is that “all nations would be blessed through His people Israel.” Jonah doesn’t get to decide who deserves God’s love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness. The Ninevites were Jonah’s enemies and he decided that God would never love them and so he ran. He was prejudice against the people of Nineveh and that’s what he used to justify his actions.

Before we get too critical of Jonah, we must each take a look at ourselves and see who we are prejudiced against. Maybe it’s a race of people. Maybe it’s a religious group. Maybe it’s someone that’s in a different socioeconomic status. We can come up with a million reasons why we will not reach out and share God’s love. Just like Jonah, we don’t get to decide who God loves and doesn’t love.

Jonah Devo 7.18Thought of the day: Who have you struggled to love? Who in your life do you run away from? Who is God asking you right now to love? We all were enemies of God because of our sin, and He still chose to demonstrate His love for us by sending Jesus to die on the cross. If God could love His enemies, we should follow His example.

Prayer: Ask God to reveal any areas in your life where you struggle with loving someone. Pray for guidance in following His example.