Month: August 2019

The Plank

Matthew 7:3-4
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

Written by: Jimmy Leaf

Do you ever get frustrated with people who get rewarded, even if they seem to be unworthy? Do you ever wonder why bad things happen to you even though you are trying to be good? Jonah did!

We can get so focused on the idea of what is fair that we judge others according to ourselves and the good things we have done. I hate to break this to you, but there has only been one truly good person on earth. His name was Jesus and He hung on a cross to pay the price for our sins.

We forget we were once as lost as those we now judge. We forget we once deserved the same condemnation we are giving others. If we remember how much we have sinned, how can we condemn others? When we focus on the love, grace, and mercy God has given us, how can we not share God’s love, grace, and mercy with those who do not know Him yet?

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” – John 3:17

Jonah Devo 8.5Thought of the day: Do not be someone’s “no.” In all things, be an example of God’s love.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for loving me even though I am a sinner! Help me to see what is important to You. I pray You use me to demonstrate Your love to others today. Amen!

The Highlight Reel

Genesis 3:6-13
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Written by: Ian Rock

Let’s be honest. None of us are particularly proud of our weaknesses, failures, and mistakes. We do our best to highlight our strengths, our best moments, and our victories. Think about social media… the majority of the things we post have essentially created a highlight reel of our lives. Day after day, we post our highlights and then we scroll past the highlight reels of our friends. Relationship milestones, new jobs and promotions, and tropical getaways are the bar that we’re trying to reach.

The social pressure to be “okay” and keep up with our peers is exhausting. Nobody excitedly shares about a failed relationship, layoff, or less-than-satisfying vacation to Tulsa. We typically withhold sharing the moments we deem not good enough for our highlight reel, and project something else to show that we’re still “okay.”

Day after day, we each dress and mask ourselves in order to put off the image we want others to see. Makeup, nice clothes, and cool gadgets distract others from our blemishes. Meanwhile, we know the real us. We know the struggle at home and insecurity at work. We know the debt we’re struggling to pay off. We know the new wrinkle or ever-receding hairline. Whether it’s in the quiet moments before sleep or when we’re comparing ourselves to the world’s highlight reel, we struggle to feel the confidence we spend all of our energy putting off each day.

Shame wants to creep in and tell us we need to put on the mask to hide our true selves from the world. Shame wants to get in your head and tell you that you’re the only one with that struggle. Shame greets you in the mirror, pointing out that flaw you can’t seem to look past.

Our darkest days, weaknesses, and biggest failures don’t have to be the things that define us. But if you struggle with shame, you’re not alone.

When Adam and Eve dishonored God, they immediately felt the weight of disappointing the One that created them. They saw their imperfections and did their best to cover and hide from each other and from God. The thoughts of failure and unworthiness flooded their minds.

“Will God know?”

“Will God forgive me?”

“Will God still love me?”

When they ran and hid, God chased them. Even after they messed up, God didn’t give up on them.

What we see take place after that is the same picture of grace echoed throughout the Bible. No matter who you are, no matter what you’ve done, no matter what’s been done to you—God loves you. Nothing you do can change that. Though there might be hurt, pain, and consequences associated with our failures, we aren’t defined by them.

God loves us where we are, but he loves us enough not to leave us there.

Jonah Devo 8.2Thought of the day: If you’re struggling with the shame associated with something in your past or because you feel like you don’t measure up, know that God is absolutely crazy about you. He doesn’t love you because of who you are, what you have done, or how you’ve impressed him—He simply loves you like a Father should love their child.

Are there any areas of your life (failures, habits, hurts) you believe God can’t redeem? Ask Him to show His grace to you.

Prayer: God, allow me to walk in the freedom from my past. Thank You for working Your way to me, and that Your love of me isn’t dependent on my performance. Thank You for using my past to prepare me, and not define me. Help me to love others with the same amount of grace You’ve shown me. Amen.

You Can’t Hide from God

Jonah 2:1-2
From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.  He said: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me.  From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry… When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.”

Written by: Marshall King

All of us can recall times growing up when we did something wrong. Instead of admitting, we hid, lied, or blamed someone else. Our behavior was not something we had to learn; it was our sin nature lived out through our flesh. I remember my parents telling me to be honest and admit when I did something wrong, rather than to hide from it or to lie about it. There would be consequences in either case, but the consequences of lying or hiding were much worse than telling the truth and owning my mistake. Who can relate?

God commanded Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach against its wickedness in hopes that the people would repent of their sin against God, and He would show compassion and mercy on them and forgive them. Jonah knew God would be merciful if they repented and that angered Jonah. Instead of obeying God, Jonah went to Tarsus—in the opposite direction of Nineveh.

Jonah was not only running from God’s directions; he was also running from God’s presence.  Jonah suffered the consequence of his disobedience, nearly drowning in the sea. But God sent a great fish to swallow him up and save him from death. God was not done with Jonah.

Hebrews 12:5-11 teaches that God never disciplines His children out of anger, but instead He disciplines us out of His great love for us and to ultimately accomplish His plans for His glory.

Later, Jonah prayed to God and confessed his sin. God listened to Jonah and forgave him—giving him a second chance to go to Nineveh and do what He had asked him to do.

Jonah obeyed and preached the message God asked him to and the people of Nineveh listened and repented of their evil and wicked ways. God had compassion and showed His mercy to the people of Nineveh instead of destroying the entire city as He had threatened to do before Jonah went and preached to them. What a great lesson in obedience. 

Jonah Devo 8.1Thought of the day: When we run from God, we can miss out on His blessings. We can never escape His love. The story of Jonah is a powerful lesson of compassion, purpose, and obedience. Are you currently running from God or attempting to hide your sin from Him? What is keeping you from trusting Him and doing what He is asking you to do? God is not angry with you. He is patiently waiting for you to humble yourself and surrender your will to Him. He wants to bless you, but not until you obey Him and trust Him with your entire life. Do you trust Him to lead you? What is keeping you from trusting and obeying God?

Prayer: Father, thank You for loving me unconditionally as I am, not as I should be. Thank You for being patient with me and disciplining me for my good out of Your great love for me. Help me to be merciful and to love others unconditionally as You love me and show mercy to me on a daily basis. Amen.