Weekly Devotional 01.14.2017

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 1 John 3:1
We are known by a number of titles over our lifetime. We begin as “cute baby (insert your name here)” and go on from there. Over a lifetime we can hold a number of “titles” often overlapping one another: husband, father, wife, mother, Grandpa, President, and so forth.

Some of these titles describe what we are while others may describe who we are. The one thing that most have in common is that they are bestowed upon us by someone else; rarely can we bestow a title upon ourselves.

There are also those titles that we carried as a child that have stayed with us as adults – sometimes to our dislike. Most of the time we outgrow one title and grow into another one as we progress through life.

There is one title, however, that has been bestowed upon you and that will stay with you from birth to death, and beyond. God has endowed you with the title “a child of God.”

To be honest, it’s not always easy to live up to it as we struggle with the temptations and demands that the world makes on us. But even in our struggle, we never are stripped of the title that God has given us because His love for us never falters.

Heavenly Father, I’m honored and humbled to be known as Your child. Help me to live up to that title in a manner that brings glory and honor to You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Weekly Devotional 12.31.2017

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  1 John 1:8
It should not come as any surprise that each one of us is bombarded with hundreds, if not thousands of messages every day. They range in scope from truth to which we should pay attention, to half-truths to which we should be wary, to lies that we should avoid.

Most of these come from the outside and can be easily controlled in terms of our response. The fact is that most never reach our consciousness as we’ve developed filters to keep them out.

There are another class of messages that are not easily filtered, some even argue that they cannot be. These are the messages that we send to ourselves – our “self -talk” that only we can hear. they are also the messages that have the greatest potential for harm.

They’re potentially harmful because they are often based upon outright lies, an incorrect interpretation of events, or the willful distortion of the truth. They serve to protect us from having to face the consequences of the truth.

If John is correct when he says that it is a lie to tell ourselves that we have no sin then we do harm to ourselves. He goes on to say that when we tell ourselves this lie the truth of salvation is not in us; we have turned our back on God. We’ve harmed ourselves in that we’ve closed the door to the part of salvation that is our inheritance of eternal life with God. What is left to us is an eternal life spent separated from Him with no means of undoing what we’ve done.

Heavenly Father, help me to control my self-talk, especially when it is harmful and leads me away from You. I stray often so when I do, show me the path to return to You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Devotional 12.24.2017 (Christmas Eve)

And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (Luke 1:28)
Mary – Jewish, young, a virgin, and engaged to be married. Sounds ideal doesn’t it? But wait – there’s a problem, she’s pregnant!

Mary’s pregnancy is grounds for divorce should Joseph choose to exercise his right to divorce her. Mary’s situation, however, deserves a second look.

For reasons known only to Him, God chose Mary to be the mother of the Messiah, the Savior that He had promised His children so long ago. From her flesh, sinful as it may have been for no one is without sin, Mary was chosen to bring into the world the greatest gift that mankind has ever received.

It is her child who will eventually hang on the cross in your place. It is her child who will suffer the wrath of an angry God on your behalf. Her child took upon Himself our sin so that we could stand before our Creator just as if we were without sin.

So, after all of the gifts have been unwrapped, the trash bagged and taken to storage, take time to give thanks for the one gift that didn’t need to be unwrapped – the gift of your salvation, a gift freely given to you by your Heavenly Father.

His is a beautiful gift, the most precious one that you will ever receive. Treasure it.

Merry Christmas,

Pastor

Heavenly Father, like Mary, I’m humbled by Your gift to me of Your Son Jesus, my Lord and my Savior. I know Father that I will stumble so when I do, please guide me back to a right path with You for there is where I want to be – in communion with You for all of eternity. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Weekly Devotional 11.26.2017

Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ the He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ (Matthew 25:44-45)

It’s easy to get seduced into thinking that God only sees the “big” things that are done in His name. The truth is that while “big” acts are important and do get noticed it is often the little actions that we do in serving one another that carry the most weight.

In this passage from Matthew, Jesus is speaking to each one of us about just this idea. Nowhere in the list of acts that He mentions is there anything that could be called “big.” The things that He mentions are the little acts of ministry that are one-on-one. These are the acts that allow us to touch the soul of another as we meet their need.

These small, individual acts that He lists in this passage are important. However, the true weight of this list is not in the list itself, but in His response when He is asked when one of the actions was done for Him. Jesus puts the lesson clearly in front of us when He says, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.”

Do the little things that we do in serving others get noticed and are they important? Absolutely they do and they are! Your words of comfort, that loving touch, your quiet presence – they are acts that serve Him by serving another.

So, the next time the opportunity to serve the need of another presents itself, don’t pass it up. You may just be touching Jesus and not even know it.

Heavenly Father, help me to see and respond to the little acts of service when they are before me. Guide me so that my hands, my touch, and my words are Yours. Act through me, Father as I serve my brother or sister. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Weekly Devotional 11.20.2017

 

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10)
It seems that there are those times when it feels like the wrath of the entire world is being directed solely at us. Someone in the world is angry at us and they are not the least bit shy in letting us know about it.

There are other times, however, when instead of being the recipient of the wrath of others we are the issuers of it. We lose sight of the fact that we are a child of God and unleash the wrath of our anger on someone else; knowing full well that this is not how God wants us to behave.

Life is not always fair and as such, we cannot control how others behave toward us. We are often the receivers of someone else’s anger just because we are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We can control how we behave, however. When we live with Christ at the center of our life our words are those that bring comfort and peace to others, not anguish, more anger, and anything but peace. It’s when we forget (ignore) His presence in our life that we all-too-often find ourselves spewing wrath on another when we should be doing just the opposite.

Until that day when Jesus comes again, how do you want to live? Do you want to be known by Him for your words of wrath or your words of comfort to others? Your choice.

Heavenly Father, help me to live with Jesus at the center of my life. Guard me against the wrath of the world that I be calm in my response and that I not return wrath for wrath. Guide me so that my words are not those of wrath but of comfort that build up rather than tear down. In Jesus’ name, AMEN

Weekly Devotional 11.05.2017

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. (1 John 3:1)

 

We live in a world in which titles are important and they carry weight; perhaps more than they truly deserve. They serve to define us, at least in part. And, they tend to stick with us, even when they may no longer be accurate. They are a “shorthand” of perceived value.

Like-it-or-not, even though most titles are positive there are some that are not. We may be known as a father or mother, sister or brother, or friend; however, we may also carry the title of dummy, or stupid, or ugly. All of these titles, positive or negative, however, are the work of men.

When we look beyond the titles that men can bestow there is one title that soars far above any of them. This title is bestowed by God for He knows us as Children of God. It is simple, direct, and is the measure of how He perceives us.

We know the meaning and intent of the titles of men, but what does it mean to be Children of God? On the surface, it means that we are His beloved creation but is there more to it?

The short answer is yes!

As a Child of God, you are loved when you are at your best but especially, when you are not. He knows that you will have “bad hair” days and as such are often in need of comfort and forgiveness – both of which He is willing and eager to provide because He loves you.

It also means that the world will not be kind to you because as His child it will not know you because it does not know Him. As His child, He will provide the strength to weather the storms that the world will send your way.

Finally, as His child, you will know true peace that comes from knowing that you are loved, cherished, valued, simply because you are His and that you will be with Him for eternity if you so choose.

 

Heavenly Father, I am blessed to be Your child. I am comforted by Your love and I wear the title Child of God with humility because You have bestowed upon me. Guide me as I share this title with others of Your children who may not know that they also wear it. Give me the strength to weather the storms of the world as I share Your blessings with those in it. I pray in the name of my Lord, Your Son, Christ Jesus. AMEN!