Month: October 2019

If I Say I Love God…

1 John 4:20-21
If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Written by: Russ Ripley

The world around us is so divided today. We huddle up in groups with other people who look just like us, act just like us, talk just like us, and believe just like us. We allow the enemy of our souls to fool us into thinking this is somehow OK and maybe even God’s plan. Is this God’s plan for His people?

In Revelation 7:9-10 the Bible says: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”

These were people from all tribes, nations, and languages. That is God’s plan.

As Jesus followers, we should be the example to a lost and broken world. We should be His church, reaching out to those who are different from us.

This isn’t an “us and them” problem. This is a “me” problem. I need to see people as God sees them. I need to pray God helps me “love my brother and sister” as Jesus loves them. When I allow Jesus to change me, He changes His Church and the world.

YAFI-Devo.10.25Thought of the day: Do you see people as “us and them” or do you allow God to open your eyes to what He sees?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to see people as You see them. Help me to love people as You love them. Change me to be more like Jesus today. Amen.

We Fear What We Don’t Understand

1 John 4:16-18
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Written by: Matt Swartz

When I was going through basic training for the U.S. Army, I had a drill sergeant that I will never forget for as long as I live. His name was Drill Sergeant Wilson and, in my mind, he was the caricature of how drill sergeants are portrayed from every movie and TV show from when I was a kid. He was tough—and could he yell—but he was fair. In the span of a couple of months, Drill Sergeant Wilson was trying to cram a ton of information into our exhausted brains, build physical strength into bodies, teach mostly unskilled marksmen how to correctly fire and care for a weapon, and also try to take a group of individuals and transform our thinking to care for the unit first.

What complicated this was the fact that we had every race, socioeconomic, and cultural background thrown into an environment of immense stress. We didn’t have time to sort out our views about each of these areas because all that mattered at the point was the mission. On one particular day, our platoon had gotten into trouble, and part of the trouble had to do with racial comments. For over an hour Drill Sergeant Wilson had us alternate between push-ups, sit-ups, and arm raises non-stop. All the while he kept saying, “There is only one color that matters in this man’s Army, and that color is green. I don’t care what color skin you have, because the mission only cares about the uniform you wear.”

The mission only cares about one color.

I have thought about that comment over the past 30 years so many times. I get it that each of us has fears about people that are different than us, and we ultimately fear what we do not understand. But the fact of the matter is that when it comes to our Great Commission to reach the world, there is only one color that matters: The red of the blood of Jesus. If we are going to place a color limitation on who Jesus loves, it would be dark-skinned people from the Middle East. He was Jewish and Middle Eastern. But the perfect love of Jesus is colorblind. That’s the message of today’s passage: It is perfect love that we choose to show a broken world every day.

YAFI-Devo.10.24Thought of the day: If Jesus can be colorblind with the greatest sacrifice of love the world has ever seen, who is someone that is different than you that you can show love to today?

Prayer: Jesus, help me today to see and love people the way you see and love people. Amen.

Loving to Hate

Proverbs 6:16-19
There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

Written by: Alfred Burgess

To fear the Lord is to hate evil, so is it all right to hate? Our gut response may be to say, “No, that’s never OK!” But some things must be hated if we are to be God’s loving people.

For example, we should hate racism—not only when we see it in others, but especially when we see evidence of it in ourselves. There is no way to transform racism; the only way to deal with it is to do away with it.

We should also hate crime, murder, poverty, and life-stealing addictions. And what about pride, greed, envy, gluttony, anger, lust, and sloth? These are called the seven deadly sins for a reason.

“Love is not just one of the affections, it is the first and chief affection, the strength of the others,” writes Jonathan Edwards. “From love arises hatred of those things which are contrary to love, or which oppose and frustrate us in those things in which we delight.”

Edwards continues, “All other religious emotions will arise from such a dynamic, affectionate, and fervent love toward God. From it will come intense hatred or abhorrence of sin, a fear of it, and a dread of God’s displeasure. Similarly, a hatred of all that robs another of dignity, security, meaning, purposefulness, hope, and health.” And, accompanied by a deep desire to do something about it!

YAFI-Devo.10.23Thought of the day: Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” – Romans 12:9

How can you do that today in a small way?

Prayer: “Oh, how I love your law!” O, Lord. “I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore, I hate every wrong path.” Guide me in the way of love, in Jesus, I pray. Amen.

What Are You Putting on Today?

Colossians 3:1-2, 14

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Written by: Kyle Glenn

When we attend weddings, we admire the beauty of the bride and groom. We long for a great photo of the couple, or maybe even with the couple. The couple, along with the bridesmaids and groomsmen, have “clothed themselves” with the very best money can buy. They have spent hours—and sometimes days—in preparation, and by the time the wedding begins, they look stunning. For the very first day of the marriage—and some would say the easiest day of marriage—the couple looks their very best!

There is a similar “putting on” that the Bible speaks of for every follower of Jesus, but this one is to be a daily practice.

Colossians 3:1 describes our position in Christ. We have been chosen, set apart, and raised with Jesus. That work was done permanently, and nothing can change that.

In Colossians 3:14, Paul expands on what our practice should look like. Our practice should equal our position.

Several times in Colossians 3 we are told to “put on” or “clothe ourselves” with the very best. This takes preparation, effort, and intentionality to choose to put on these Godly traits each day. This is what we do. This is our practice.

What does it look like for you to “put on” these today?

  • Compassion
  • Kindness
  • Humility
  • Gentleness
  • Patience

Verse 11 describes the powerful outcome that results when we are properly clothed, having put on love, and fully dressed: There are no irreconcilable differences for those in Christ. There is no Gentile, or Jew, insider, and outsider, uncouth or uncivilized. We are all united in Christ.

YAFI-Devo.10.22Prayer: Jesus, thank You for our position in Christ. Today, I ask for Your grace to practice my position. Give me patience, gentleness, kindness, humility, and compassion with those I interact with today. May I see each person today as You see them. Amen

Love Other People

Matthew 22:36-40
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Written by: Gina Rock

I’m a rule follower to a tee. I like to know what’s expected of me at all times so I can make sure to meet those expectations. While some scenarios in life, even the Christian life, require wisdom and discernment, often the Bible lays out exactly how we are to behave or respond.

Here in Matthew, and repeated in some of the other gospels, Jesus lays out as simply and firmly as possible that we are to love God and love other people. He didn’t say love other people who are kind to you, who look like you, who share your beliefs, who might have something to offer you. He plainly says to “love your neighbor as yourself.” He says this commandment is second only to loving God. Jesus displays great love for others who are very different than Him throughout scripture.

YAFI-Devo.10.21Thought of the day: If everyone around you looks/thinks/acts/votes/speaks the same as you, you are missing out on what Jesus calls the most important thing! What are some ways you can actively love those around you who are different than you?

Prayer: Father, thank You for loving me. Open my eyes to see those around me, so that I might love them well. Amen.