Tag Archives: Devotional

You Belong To Christ

When I was younger, people at church would often quote 1 Corinthians 6:19 to me and others. It says, “Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and who was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourselves but to God” (GNT). You don’t hear many people quoting this one these days, but it’s still true and should guide our decisions. When you gave your heart to Christ, you surrendered your rights to your life and your body. You were purchased at a high cost. It’s time to quit living and thinking of yourself as clearance goods. Also, because you now belong to Christ, you are entitled to many promises.

Here are some Bible verses on the promises of belonging to Christ.

1. This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

2. So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:1 NLT

3. May peace be with all of you who belong to Christ.

1 Peter 5:14 GNT

4. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life.

1 Corinthians 15:22 NLT

5. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

Romans 8:2 NLT

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Joy Returns

Lamentations 4 and 5 are two of the saddest chapters in the Bible. Jeremiah was so descriptive of what life was like living under the control of their enemy. The people who were once wealthy were digging through the trash to find food. The kids were forced to do manual labor that was too hard for them. Anyone caught looking for food outside the city walls was killed. Confidence was replaced with desperation, and joy was replaced with a deep depression.

People no longer gathered to talk. No one sang any songs. The population was dwindling down because people were dying of starvation. It was a very dark period in Israel’s history. Jeremiah knew they were living under the enemy’s control because they had turned their back on God. He cried out in repentance and asked God how long would they suffer. Then he remembered that suffering is temporary, but God is eternal.

You may be going through a dark time in your life right now as well. It may feel like God has abandoned you and that you are living under the enemy’s control. I know what it’s like to live through that. I know what it feels like to lose everything and wonder if you should still try to keep going. I can let you know that the suffering is only temporary. It does end and the sun comes out again. God has not abandoned you no matter how alone you feel.

I pray Jeremiah’s prayer in Lamentations 5:21 over you today. It says, “Restore us, O Lord, and bring us back to you again! Give us back the joys we once had!” (NLT) I’m living proof that God restores what the enemy stole, and that joy returns. When God restores you, He will rebuild everything better than it was. When He gives your joy back, it will be greater than before. What feels like forever is only a season. Restoration is coming.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Becoming Heirs

Not long ago, we visited the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. It is America’s largest home at over 178,000 square feet and sits on 8,000 acres. We took the tour to learn all about its construction and owner. George Washington Vanderbilt was the man who had it built. He was the youngest of three sons whose father inherited the Vanderbilt fortune. George’s father inherited 100 million dollars and turned it into 200 million before he died. George’s two brothers inherited the bulk of the money. With part of his inheritance, he built this magnificent home that still belongs to the family.

The Bible talks a lot about first born children and inheritances. The first born received a double portion since they were to care for the estate and father’s wife. Abraham blessed Isaac and left him the double portion. Jacob tricked Esau into giving him the first born inheritance and then stole the blessing too. As generations went on, they referred to themselves as heirs of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. That carried over into New Testament times as well. The people identified as heirs of Abraham, but Jesus wanted to change that so that we would become heirs of God through Him.

Romans 8:16-17 says, “The Spirit Himself testifies and confirms together with our spirit [assuring us] that we [believers] are children of God. And if [we are His] children, [then we are His] heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His spiritual blessing and inheritance], if indeed we share in His suffering so that we may also share in His glory” (AMP). Just like George Vanderbilt, you and I are heirs to an incredible inheritance. When we accept Christ, we go from death to life and become royalty in the Kingdom of God. It’s time you and I began to see ourselves in this light and live like sons and daughters of the King. You’ve received spiritual blessings and will inherit all He has.

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Planting God’s Word

I try to grow a small garden each spring. Some years the garden does well, and others not so much. This year it didn’t produce anything. My radishes came up empty. My carrots were tiny. The squash took forever to even bloom. Then the corn stalks dried up and died. It was a sad site to behold for sure. It started out with such promise, but it never delivered even though we watered it and did our best to keep the weeds out.

There are years though where every time I walk over to it, there is food. We then take that food, cook it, and eat it. Afterwards, we are able to take the seeds and replant them so that a new crop is produced. That’s the way a garden should be, but it’s also the way that God’s Word is. It produces fruit in our lives which feeds us. It also produces seeds that regenerate a new crop of faith in our lives.

Isaiah 55:11 says, “It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it” (NLT). God’s Word doesn’t have off years like my garden. It always produces and always prospers no matter what ground it’s planted in. That’s the key though. If we want God’s Word to produce and prosper in our lives, we first have to plant it in our hearts.

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Our Motivation Matters

Do you ever stop to think about who benefits from your actions? In a lot of cases, the things we do are designed to help us benefit from our actions. If we benefit from our actions, is it also fair to say, we do things to get recognition as well? Since we were babies, we have been conditioned to try to do things for applause. When you clap for a baby, their face lights up. When they start talking, they say, “Look at me,” and then they do something to try to get praise. Unfortunately, when this transitions into adulthood, it becomes something that can inflate our pride. When that happens, we begin to be controlled by what other people think.

Pride is very dangerous. Look at King Saul. He started off very humble. When Samuel found him, he referred to himself as a man from the smallest tribe and the least important family. After he became king, that humility left him and pride took its place. He made decisions that benefited himself rather than God or others. It got the the point that God was sad that he ever made Saul king. When Samuel went to Saul to break the news that God was going to take the kingdom away from him in 1 Samuel 15, Saul was setting up a monument to himself. Pride had taken over Saul’s life to the point he only cared about what God wanted when he got caught or was in a bind.

Romans 8:5 says, “Those who are motivated by the flesh only pursue what benefits themselves. But those who live by the impulses of the Holy Spirit are motivated to pursue spiritual realities” (TPT). When pride is in the driver’s seat of our life, we do things that benefit ourselves and bring us glory. 1 Peter 5:5 tells us that God is opposed to the proud. We must learn to seek God rather than the praise of men. Romans 8 draws a line between those who are Spirit minded and fleshly minded. The fruit of our lives will show which mind we have. Our motivation matters and is the difference between being humble or filled with pride.

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Seeking Jesus

As a kid, one of my favorite Bible stories and songs was about Zacchaeus from Luke 19. As you may recall, he wasn’t very tall and was struggling to see Jesus over the crowd. After trying several things, he climbed up a tree in order to see Jesus. I love that when He saw Jesus, Jesus saw him and rewarded his tenacity by meeting with him in his home. Zacchaeus became a changed man because he sought Jesus until He could find Him. The same should be true of us. We should be continually seeking Him, looking for Him and meeting with Him. Zacchaeus isn’t a children’s story. It’s a reminder for us to tenaciously seek Jesus.

Here are some Bible verses on seeking Jesus.

1. I love those who love me; whoever looks for me can find me.

Proverbs 8:17 GNT

2. “[Looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].

Hebrews 12:2 AMP

3. Yahweh looks down in love, looking over all of Adam’s sons and daughters. He’s looking to see if there is anyone who acts wisely, any who are searching for God and wanting to please him.

Psalms 14:2 TPT

4. “When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree. “I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you”—God’s Decree—“bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.”

Jeremiah 29:13-14 MSG

5. There you will look for the Lord your God, and if you search for him with all your heart, you will find him.

Deuteronomy 4:29 GNT

Are you still seeking Him like Zacchaeus? Is He still making a difference in your life?

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The Discipline Of Fasting

Earlier this year I went to visit a doctor. One of his first questions was, “How often do you fast?” I gave him a puzzled look since that is a church question and not a doctor one. He said, “I fast once a week and the health benefits are amazing.” While you do gain health benefits from fasting, I believe the spiritual benefits far outweigh the physical ones. Fasting is a spiritual discipline that seems to have been lost in today’s modern church. We’ve relegated it to a once a year thing instead of a regular discipline, and we’re missing the power that comes with it. God instituted it in the Old Testament, but Jesus validated it for New Testament Times as well.

In Daniel 6, there is a story that most of us are familiar with. Daniel was a person who practiced spiritual disciplines. I believe he was promoted because of them, but there were those who didn’t like his being promoted and they wanted to take him down. They convinced the king to put anyone who prayed to any being other than the king into a den of lions. When Daniel found out about it, he didn’t stop practicing his spiritual disciplines. The men told the king and he had no choice but to throw Daniel in the den. The king liked Daniel, but he had broken his new law. Daniel 6:17-18 says, “A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den. The king sealed the stone with his own royal seal and the seals of his nobles, so that no one could rescue Daniel. Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night fasting. He refused his usual entertainment and couldn’t sleep at all that night” (NLT). As you know, God honored Daniel’s prayers and the king’s fasting.

When prayer isn’t getting you the answers you need, it’s time to fast. If you’re medically unable to fast, ask a friend to fast for you. God shut the mouths of lions because of fasting in this book. In the New Testament, spiritual battles were won and people were healed because of it. I often recommend a three day, water only fast to people. It’s difficult and challenging, but very effective. Fasting isn’t supposed to be easy. We constantly give in to our body’s cravings and fasting helps you to learn to deny those physical cravings. It also helps when it comes to denying your fleshly ones too. If it’s been a while since you’ve fasted and you need an answer from God, begin the spiritual discipline of regular fasting and watch God Move in your life.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Practicing Greatness

Who is the greatest person you know personally? Who do you think is the greatest person alive right now? I’m not looking for the Sunday School answer of Jesus either. What makes those people great in your eyes? I’m sure every person reading this would probably have a different answer. Some people are raised with greatness as the goal and standard for living. Others feel it’s not right to seek greatness. I’m of the persuasion that each of us should seek greatness in our lives. One of the first lines in the book “Good to Great” is a quote I remind myself of often. The author, Jim Collins wrote, “Good is the enemy of great.”

One day, as the disciples were all sitting around, a discussion broke out about who was the greatest and who would be the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven. When they couldn’t resolve it, they asked Jesus. I love that He didn’t rebuke them for wanting to be great. He simply redefined for them what greatness meant. In Matthew 18:3-4 Jesus said, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless you repent [that is, change your inner self—your old way of thinking, live changed lives] and become like children [trusting, humble, and forgiving], you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (AMP).

Going back to my first question, is the greatest person you know humble? Heaven’s definition of greatness begins with humility and includes trusting God and being able to forgive others. That kind of greatness is something we should all be striving for in our lives. It’s not easy. Being great never is. That why you may have struggled to come up with names at the beginning. There are very few people whom we consider great, yet we need to strive for greatness by God’s definition more than the world’s. You were created with greatness in you. It starts with trusting God’s plan for your life, receiving His grace and forgiving those who have wronged you. Go practice greatness today.

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Seen By God

How do you react when everything seems to be going wrong? Sometimes your fight or flight kicks in. Flight seems to be the first choice for many of us. We just want to get away from everything, crawl under a rock and try to hide from it. A pity party is also a popular choice. There’s nothing like giving up and complaining that life just isn’t fair. Then there’s the “Why, God” approach. We complain to God about how we’re being treated and wonder if He even cares. I can say I’ve been through all these at one time or another. However, there’s also the choice to let hard times push us closer to God. When nothing makes sense, it only makes sense to search for the One who can make sense of it all. He also is an excellent place of refuge.

In Genesis 16, Abram and Sarai had decided to help God fulfill His promise to them of making them parents. Sarai gave her servant Hagar to Abram to have a kid with, then they would take the kid and raise him. Except when Hagar got pregnant, she began to look down on Sarai. SoSarai became vengeful and treated Hagar so harshly that she chose the flight option. While she was away, desperate, broken and in need, God found her and sent His angel. After giving her a promise for her soon to be born son Ishmael, she gained hope. In verse 13 it says, “Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, ‘You are the God who sees me.’ She also said, ‘Have I truly seen the One who sees me?’” NLT

God sees us in our distress. No matter how far we run or how big of a pity party we have, His hope is that we will search for Him and trust His plan. Psalm 9:10 says, “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.” God has not abandoned you in your time of need. He’s not left you to fight your battles alone. You may not see it, but going through difficult seasons is often how He builds our faith, course corrects and draws us closer to Him. His desire is that we will search for Him and fully rely on Him. You can trust in Him and in His plan especially when you can’t see the way forward. He is a good God and has a plan you can trust in even when it seems all hope is lost. He sees you in the middle of your storm. You are not forgotten.

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Cultivating God’s Word

If you go back to Genesis and read the account of creation, you’ll notice that God spoke almost everything into existence. However, there were two things He made by hand. One was man and the other was the Garden of Eden. It says that God planted the trees and plants in the garden. Then in Genesis 2:15 it says, “Then the Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and guard it” (GNT). It was man’s responsibility to tend to the things God planted and to guard them well. I believe we still have the responsibility today to cultivate and guard what God plants.

Let’s fast forward to the New Testament. In Luke 8:5-8, Jesus told the parable of the farmer who went out to plant some seeds. So,e seeds fell on the path where it was stepped on and birds ate it. Some fell on rocky ground, but the plants died because there was no moisture. Some fell among the thorns and they choked out what grew. Finally, some fell on good soil and produced a crop. The disciples didn’t really understand the parable, so Jesus explained that the farmer was God and the seed was His Word. Then in verse 15 He said, “The seeds that fell in good soil stand for those who hear the message and retain it in a good and obedient heart, and they persist until they bear fruit.”

God is always trying to plant His Word in our hearts, but it’s up to us to guard it and cultivate it. What was true in the garden is still true today. If we want to see a harvest in our lives, we need to protect what God plants from the enemy who will try to eat it by discrediting it and crushing it. We must remove the rocky parts of our heart to keep the soil fertile so that we continue to hold onto it during hard times. Finally, we need to guard against the cares of this world that will try to take priority over God’s Word. Remember, it’s God who does the planting, but we are the ones who must care for, tend and protect what He plants.

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