Trust is hard. It’s easy to say there is trust but actually taking the step – making the leap into mid-air without a visible net is the most difficult thing man can do. But with the Spirit of God our leap lands us safe in His palm.
DEVOTION BY Nydia DiCarali POSTED 4/24/2018 12:00:01 AM ON 1 Peter 2:9 NIV
I have an uncommon name.
As a young girl, I often thought about changing my name to something more in keeping with my peers—like Karen, Susan, or Catherine. I have since outgrown that idea and have come to appreciate its uniqueness.
In the Old Testament, we see God change Abram’s name to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, and Jacob to Israel. We see the same thing in the New Testament. Saul becomes Paul, and Simon becomes Peter.
When God changes a name, it signifies He is about to transform the character and heart of the individual. And transformation takes time.
What’s really in a name anyway? As consumers, we put a lot of stock in name brands because we believe the name is synonymous with quality, craftsmanship, and integrity. And rightly so.
But what about us who bear the name of Christ? God wants us to exemplify Christlike character by being patient, kind, and gentle. This is where I often fall short. I long for Him to form the life of Christ in me so that I bear not just His name but also a striking resemblance to His character.
As God’s children, we don’t just want to bear His name like we would an expensive bag or designer shoes which give the impression we have somehow arrived. As followers of Christ, we should strive to emulate the character of the One by Whose name we are called . . . to allow Him to form Christ in us, the hope of glory.
External things do not give us worth, but the name of Christ—the name which is above every other name—does. Make up your mind to represent the name of Christ well.
(Photo courtesy of pixabay.)
(For more devotions, visit Christian Devotions.)
DEVOTION BY Marcia Leaser POSTED 4/17/2018 12:00:01 AM ON Matthew 11:15 NIV
My husband, Bob, received a little cross from a nearby church when we went to see a Christian movie they were showing. It meant the world to him. He carried it with him everywhere he went and laid it by his head every night as he slept.
Someone remarked that he shouldn’t worship a piece of wood. Bob explained it wasn’t the three inch wooden cross he carried that meant so much but what it stood for. “Christ gave His life for me on the original one at Calvary,” he chanted to those who mocked him for his loyalty to the small wooden replica in his pocket.
Bob had preached the Word of God for sixty-five years and loved serving God in that manner. At ninety, age kept him from the pulpit, but the small cross allowed him to tell the story of the loving grace of his Savior as he showed it to strangers he met at the many restaurants and stores where we stopped.
One day, the cross disappeared. We searched all over the house. While tipping the chair he always sat in, I told Bob he should have taken better care of something that meant so much to him. I was positive he’d left it at one of the places we’d visited.
“Perhaps the person who finds it needs it more than I do,” he said with a reassuring smile.
I hadn’t thought of that. Once again—as he had throughout our many years as husband and wife—he blessed me with his words. I smiled inside. He didn’t need to stand behind a pulpit to preach.
Many times, God speaks loudly through a simple sentence in His holy word. But I wonder how much I have missed by not hearing what He says so plainly.
As God’s children, we should listen as He speaks to us every day: in a sunrise, through a stranger, and often through our loved ones’ voices.
Not only listen; hear as well.
DEVOTION BY Renee Hymel POSTED 4/10/2018 12:00:01 AM ON James 4:10 NIV
Recently, my thirteen-year-old grandson played the little drummer boy in our church musical, “The Gift of Christmas.” It was a lead role, yet he was not under a spotlight. Instead, he was in semi-darkness covered in a shepherd’s cloak. As I watched, I thought how appropriate this picture of humility in leadership was. The cloak prevented the altar from becoming a stage.
Then there was the young soldier who received a new suit of armor. He stepped out into the brightness of the day but was quickly blinded by the glare his suit created. His friend placed a dirty cloak over him. At first he resisted, but his wise friend reminded him that without the cloak he was vulnerable to defeat because of the blindness created by the glare.
Without the cloak of humility, we can be blinded by our position, authority, and anointing. Not only are we blinded to the attacks of the enemy, we are also blinded to the truth of God. It may take the humiliation of a fall to see this. Humility keeps us focused on God’s building through us rather than us building for Him.
Through humility, we display the life-transforming message of Jesus Christ. Without humility, the message can become buried in showmanship. With humility, we declare how good God is. By using humility in our declaration, we give the gift back to God just as it came: good and perfect.
Picture yourself like my grandson: no face and no name, only the drum. Then use your gifts to display God’s glory, not showcase your own talent. Wear the cloak of humility, for without it the enemy will surely take you down.
Remove yourself from the limelight so others can see God.
DEVOTION BY Andrew McNeil POSTED 4/3/2018 12:00:01 AM ON Ephesians 2:8 ESV
My life journey has been plagued with bouts of guilt.
Led by my desire and failure to live a flawlessly devoted life, my hope turned to shame as my sinful nature overtook me. However, the standard I tried to achieve was not of Christ, but of the world.
The guilt of sin weighs heavily on the heart. If left unresolved, we can become spiritually apathetic. Tired of failing to live up to the standards of perfection the church can place on us, we fall into the motions. We insist our actions are what define our spirituality. This slippery slope leads us down a path of self-righteousness. The mistake is insisting our salvation is of our own doing rather than of the Lord's.
Rather, we are given the gift of salvation—a gift of God not of our own doing. Paul reminds us grace from God through faith saves us, not our works. The more we work for righteousness, the less we accept Christ's atonement for our sins. If Christ died for our sins but we must work for our salvation, then Christ died in vain. Christ’s sacrifice brought atonement for our sins of the past, present, and future.
As children of God, we are held to a higher standard. Nevertheless, we must not forget the message of the gospel. We are too sinful to achieve righteousness on our own. Any desire for perfection is derived in vanity. The guilt we face in this life can overcome us, but there is a greater truth to be made. We have already been set free from the bondage of sin. The battle with guilt over our sins has already been won.
Don’t try to work for what Christ gives freely.
DEVOTION BY Ken Barnes POSTED 3/27/2018 12:00:01 AM ON Matthew 21:21 NLT
In the cartoon Peanuts, Lucy says to Charlie Brown, “We are put here to serve others.” Charlie responds, “Then what are the others here for?”
At times, life does seem unfair. For a season, givers may find themselves surrounded by takers. Givers can feel unjustly used, yet, in the final analysis, takers will never know the joy of giving. We often begin life by looking at famous people, thinking how great it would be to be like them. Then we start taking things we need to fulfill our desire for notoriety.
The disciples of Jesus had this problem—and so did the mother of James and John. They jockeyed for positions of honor in God’s kingdom. He knew they needed an object lesson. He grabbed a towel and washed their feet, teaching that the greatest in His kingdom were givers, not takers. The disciples were astonished because they were steeped in the mentality of the world: take what you want before someone else gets it.
If we are honest, we’ve all felt a little like Charlie Brown. If he was here to serve others, why weren’t the others serving too? We wonder why we always get the short end of the stick. The psalmist pondered this dilemma when the bad guys were getting all the good things (Psalm 73:2-3).
Only in giving do we win because “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35b). If you are a taker, you will never know the joy of giving. The memory of those you have blessed by giving will linger long after the glitter of temporal things is gone.
Ask God for a heart that desires to give to others.