Devotional 4/10

It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. Romans 14:21

We are called by God to do theology, that is, to live our lives with a moment- by- moment consciousness of God.

Paul David Tripp

We are free in Christ. Freedom is to live in a way that pleases God: it is to live by faith. Romans 14 says that we should be convinced in our mind of what is correct for us.

Today we walk in the grace which the Lord has offered us through Christ. The scriptures say that if our brother in the faith believes a thing is right or wrong, they are free to hold fast to their convictions.

Conviction:

  • the quality of showing that one is firmly convinced of what one believes or says.
  • a firmly held belief or opinion, belief, view, opinion, thought, persuasion, idea, position, stance
  • a formal declaration that someone is guilty of a criminal offense, made by the verdict of a jury or the decision of a judge in a court of law
  • declaration/pronouncement of guilt, sentence or judgment

Our choices for entertainment, beauty and fashion, food and drink, and sexual intimacy are topics where Christians tend to contend over. Some people don’t wear jewelry, others don’t watch movies or listen to secular music, and some only enjoy sex in missionary position: these are all personal convictions. We are not to contend over convictions, unless they are contrary to scripture. For instance, Paul uses food and drink as his object of study in these scriptures. He says if we believe that we are free to drink or eat food offered to other God’s is okay, but our brother disagrees… then we ought not to eat it for the sake of the other. If a brother offers idols to other gods, then we contend for the faith.

We are free to do as we would, given that it is in line with scripture. We have to be careful that a brother or sister in Christ would stumble because of our freedom. In wisdom Paul says, keep your freedom between you and God.

Jesus Christ, our Lord lived a life of selflessness. As we grow into His likeness we do the same. It pleases God, that we put others before ourselves.

Let’s pray:

Father God, we thank you for making us free and giving us liberty to enjoy this life in submission to you. Thank you for your Holy Spirit. Thank you for salvation. Today I ask you to continue showing us your path so that we may walk in it. May our spiritual senses be sharpened in Jesus name, Amen.

 

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Devotional 2/3

And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

Every experience in your life is being orchestrated to teach you something you need to know to move forward.

Brian Tracy

God created us so that everything would work for our good. He even arranged our personalities, nationalities, families and environments so that these details would benefit our lives. The Lord even used our looks with a specific ingenuity.

In God’s perfect plan these details and attributes would all have a reason for being! The Lord’s desire is to orchestrate our lives according to His plan, but evil and our evil nature have been a major influence. The Lord does not cause negative things to happen in our lives, but like the story of Joseph He does use them for our good.

The Lord created Adam and Eve and organized their world. The Lord did not desire for Adam and Eve to sin, but the Lord used their fall to redeem His people from hell, by promising that the Savior of the world would come from Eve’s womb. When the Lord anointed Saul as king of Israel, He orchestrated it so that Saul would be filled with the Holy Spirit in a certain place at a certain time with certain people. God didn’t cause Saul to disobey Him, but it worked out for Israel and the world. The Lord Jesus came from the lineage of David, so God’s plans were fulfilled. We are now living in a time where the Lord wants your life to show people that He wants their souls to be saved, and that you are awaiting the Lord’s return.

There are plenty of stories in the Bible of loss and redemption, sin and repentance, arrogance and humility: the Bible also shows us that God can use all the miscellaneous details. God can glorify Himself in your setbacks and turn it all around. The world is waiting for the manifestation of the children of God: you are a child of a God!

God can use your life, all of it, and fit it into His perfect plans. He can shift your lives from walking in worry and fear to walking in love, in power and in faith. Your history, your mistakes, your failures, your bad decisions, your ignorance and arrogance will all work for your own good!

Let’s pray:

Father God, thank you for our story. Thank you for being Wisdom. You are the architect of our lives,you are the sovereign God. Thank you for giving us peace with our past, with the disappointments, the mistakes, the loss, and all of the past. Thank you for making us Joseph’s. Thank you that nothing is able to separate us from your love. Thank you for continuing your plan in our lives. We are eternally grateful for your mercy, and faithfulness. In Jesus name, Amen.

Devotional 12/16

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Psalm 43:5

All year the enemy has been swinging at you, and you haven’t been fighting back like you should be.

Are you fighting discouragement? The enemy fights us with discouragement, we are still in this human body and the enemy wants our soul. He wars against us with schemes and tactics. And discouragement is one of his greatest weapons.

Most of the greats in the Bible experienced discouragement. But they also overcame these feelings of sadness, sorrow and inner turmoil. The enemy’s greatest strength is to make us believe: this is it, things will not change and we might as well give up without a fight. David and Elijah are of my favorite examples.

David quickly forgot about the battle he had just won, when he and his men, saw the enemy camp had taken their women and kids! The men plotted to stone him, David felt discouraged but he did not go into hopelessness. David went to God, he encouraged himself in the Lord! And asked the Lord, should I go after my stuff or is this it for us?The Lord told David, go fight for your stuff! You will recover all!

Elijah also experienced discouragement, and went into a cave to die. He went into despair,

even after defeating over 400 Baal prophets. But guess who showed up? God!! The Lord woke Elijah up, fed him and told Him to get some courage because he had a long journey ahead of him.

Where is your hope? Did you notice that God did the same for both David and Elijah. The Lord said okay, you’re sad, you’re afraid, you’re worn out, but guess what… I, God, am not done with you yet!

Choose joy over sorrow, choose praise over depression, choose hope over doubt and choose to choose! Yes, even with happiness or discouragement we have the option to choose one or the other.

Let’s pray:

Father God, heal our hearts from disappointment and discouragement. I pray for the oils of gladness, and the garments of praise to help us stand firm. I pray against generational curses of depression and victimization, break them Jesus! Teach us to fight God, we declare we are more than conquerors in Christ. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Devotional 8/21

Judah, your brothers will praise you. You will defeat your enemies. Your brothers will bow down to you. Judah is like a young lion. My son, you are like a lion standing over the animal it killed. Like a lion, Judah lies down to rest, and no one is brave enough to disturb him. Men from Judah’s family will be kings. The sign that his family rules
will not leave his family before the real king comes. Then many people will obey and serve him. Genesis 49:8-10

If I was going to love God through this calling, I would need to love God more than this calling.
Beth Booram

As I read about the people of God, I come to know a God who uses our frail humanity and shortcomings to bring about His own purposes. Sampson married a Philistine, and it was purposed by God even if nobody understood his decision. David sinned with Bathsheba, but God brought forth one the wisest of men: Solomon. Joseph was envied and misunderstood by his brothers, and sold to Egypt: wrongly imprisoned, and it was because God would use him to feed the nations. Ruth and Naomi’s loved ones died, but it was purposed in God to continue the lineage of David to Jesus Christ. Judah slept with a prostitute, who was really Tamar disguised as one; she became pregnant with twins and King David and the kings of Judah, and Jesus Christ would come from the lineage of Perez (one of the twins). See the source image

A few chapters later we see a God who declares a benediction over Judah. In this circumstance the blessing is given by Jacob, where God prophesied His will over Judah. His brothers would praise him, he would be a mighty warrior, fierce like a lion and that his lineage would born many kings. One of the best things about God, is that He knows our past, our present and our future. There are no limitations or misunderstandings when speaking to God: He is not surprised by anything we may think, feel or desire.

God knew that Judah went outside of his own people to marry: he married a Canaanite. God knew his sons were evil. And God also knew that he slept with a prostitute, which the Lord impregnated with twins. God knew something about Judah which people possibly could not see.  Judah had determination, and a strong character that would bring glory to God according to what was being assigned to Him. If God will assign someone a certain position, God knows that you have the strength and the discipline for it.

Judah, then became one of the tribes of Israel; which became one of the most powerful. While the Lord Jesus Christ, in the book of Revelations, is referred to as ‘The Lion of the tribe of Judah’.

Let’s pray:

Lord God, may we receive the blessing you declared over Judah. You created Judah and filled him with a purpose, and when the time was right you called him into it. May you show us for that which called, even when we cannot see ourselves with your eyes. May we be focused and determined as was Judah. And may we be fierce warriors defeating our enemies. The word Judah means “praised” and if you find that we ought to be praised; then you do as you will. But I pray for a heart full of gratitude,and mouths full of new songs of victory and of praise. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

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Devotional 8/2

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. John 3:18

I have noticed that even people who believe in predestination, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before crossing the street.
Stephen Hawking

If God expects us to choose between placing our faith in him or in going to hell, are we obligated to believe? The bible says that if we believe in the one who God sent, then we will be saved and if we do not we are condemned to hell. Faith is ultimately a choice, but it is actually an obligation. We owe the God of the universe our acknowledgement and trust.

Last night, I was reading Trusting God in Hard Times, Lessons from the life of Elijah by Bill Crowder and although we may have faith, faith is not enough. If our faith is not placed in the God of the universe, Jehovah and the Messiah He sent, Jesus Christ… then we are condemned to eternal fire. My faith was placed in a higher being and in myself. I was spiritual but I was dealing with divination, astrology and familiar spirits. I believed in the energy of precious gems, fortune telling and creative visualization (now known as the law of attraction), and I had confessed Jesus Christ as Lord. I definitely had faith, but it was not placed solely in Jesus Christ.

God knows everything, so is it really up to us to believe? Even if we believe we have no faith; everyone has been given an amount of faith. And we choose where to place our faith. If we do not place our faith in the One He sent, then we are condemned already. He doesn’t obligate anyone to believe but He does expect us to take the first step: seek Him. When we seek God, He reveals Himself. And when He makes Himself known, then we are without excuse before Him. When we reject the message, then we are condemned to hell.

It is our obligation to place our faith in God through Jesus Christ, as in we owe it to God, the Creator of the universe and everything in it. The Lord is selfish but He is God after all. As a good friend of mine put it, “we don’t go to work because we are forced to. If we choose not to work, we know the consequences that will eventually follow. So we go to work in order to avoid those consequences.” He makes demands and has expectations of us (His creation) because He is God after all.

Why believe in God? The truth for many Christians is that if it were not for the existence of hell, there would be none who seek God. The mention of hell in the bible, drives people to God and to do right by Him. And I do not believe this is trusting faith, this is fear driven faith which leads to works for love, salvation, blessings, etc. Our love for God is what truly defines sustaining faith. It is similar to the way we are changed when we are in love or feel loved in human relationships. Trust, acknowledgement and forgiveness are vital parts of any relationship, and it is also true with our relationship with God.

Knowing the love of God begins with humility: go ahead and recognize God’s goodness in your life. Once we encounter the goodness of God, His forgiveness, His undeserved favors and His attention to our small and insignificant lives then we are drawn to repentance, and to please Him. It is not a matter of preaching on God’s love or reading it, it is rather the experience of God and the love of God.If you want to grow your relationship with God, check out this other book by Bill Crowder: Let’s Talk: Praying Your Way to a Deeper Relationship with God. May the love of God change you.

Let’s pray:

Lord Jesus, I admit that it is a challenge to not wonder if you are fair, or truly just. It seems evil that a “good God”, could send millions of souls to hell. And a “good God” can allow so much evil and confusion in this world, including the ridiculous division of the church and all the religions in this world. It is a challenge to still believe you after being disappointed, deceived, used and even discarded as some people are from relationships with others, and even from churches. I simply ask you to increase our faith, draw our hearts to you and open our eyes to discern between your truth and the lies of Satan. In Jesus name, Amen.

Devotional 8/1

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

To conquer frustration, one must remain intensely focused on the outcome, not the obstacles.
T.F Hodge

The stories of the bible are teachings and warnings to us, the readers. There are many things found in the bible which are not popular in church conversation, or ministry preaching. One of the emotions which we all experience is frustration. There are 3 people who come to mind when I think of overcoming frustration: Rachel, Moses and Elijah. Frustration happens to everyone, but Satan uses it as an entry way for sin, and bitterness which causes us to fall from grace. What does frustration look like?

  • If God really loves me, why am I sick? Why do I need mental help?  
  • Why does it seem like everyone else is getting something from Him and I’m just here drying up? 
  • I’ve been sacrificing, I’ve been serving, I’ve been obedient, where are my answered prayers?
  • Does God not think I deserve a family? Will I ever be married, or have children? 
  • Is God’s word really true, where is the salvation of my family?
  • paid vacations like sister so and so?
  • I have been faithful, where is my promotion? where is my new job?
  • I’ve been sexually pure, where is my wife/husband?
  • I’ve been faithful to my tithes and offerings, where is the cancellation my debt like sister so and so? See the source image

The Israelites were found to be in rebellion against God, and personally I believe they were frustrated in their process. God promised them a land of milk and honey which would be theirs, but God never told them it would be drastically different from being in Egypt. He didn’t mention the long walk through the wilderness, the lack of food, delicacies or water along the way. The Israelites made a handmade golden calf, and worshiped it in a celebratory type of way. They engaged in sexual immorality, and worshipped the gods of the Moabites. And they spoke against their leaders too. They tested the Lord’s patience, as we all do.

Another person who became frustrated was Moses, he asked God ‘why are you afflicting me this way!”. What did I do to deserve such treatment, am I not a faithful servant? We also have Elijah the prophet who wanted to die. He was threatened by Jezebel, and asked God to take his life because he concluded he would not make it. He ran into a cave, hoping to die and cried out to God: God I am zealous for your kingdom, why am I going through this? Rachel was another person in the bible who had to see her sister Leah get what she wanted for years and years, and even Hannah, who had to deal with a tormenting spirit named Peninah.

In the midst of negativity, we can appreciate what God has done and remember that He will continue to be good to us. Although it seems that God will not give us the perfect lives we desire, but God is with us and He is a present help in time of need. King David is a perfect example of enduring frustration and discouragement. David told God all that was in his heart, but he also exalted God because He understood that overall God is the supreme ruler and he was merely a man. It is okay to be sincere with God, we can question God in the secret place, and even ask Him where He is: remember God knows your thoughts before you speak them. And in the same prayer, we should humble ourselves to exalt God’s loyalty, power and majesty because after all He has been good.

I recommend two amazing books I have been tremendously blessed by:
No More Faking: Ending the Pretending, by Esther Fleece 
Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely
by Lysa TerKeurst

Let’s pray:

How long, O Lord? Will You forget us forever? How long will You hide Your face from us? How long must we take counsel in our souls, having sorrow in our hearts day after day? How long will the enemy exalt himself and triumph over us? Consider and answer us, O Lord my God; Bring us back to life, Give light to our eyes, or else we will die, and the enemy will say, “I have overcome them,” and our adversaries will rejoice when we are shaken. But we trust and rely on and been confident in Your lovingkindness and faithfulness; Our hearts will rejoice and delight in Your salvation. We will sing to You Lord, because You have dealt bountifully with us. In Jesus name, Amen. heart

 

Devotional 7/30

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. James 1:8

Commitment is doing what you said you would do, long after what the mood you said it in has left.

As long as we have life, we will have growing pains, whether in Christ or in the world. And there will come a time when we will face the Lord, as He gives us a recount of our entire life. Adversity has the ability to surprise us, in a similar way that being under the influence of liquor or other substances. And this is why the Bible tells us to stand firm.

If we claim to be Christian, let us be Christ imitators in all things and at all times. If we say we are givers, may we give freely and without selfishness. If we say we love may we love unconditionally. God is interested in knowing if we will stick to the words we profess and the decisions we make in the face of disappointment, deception and failure. He is looking to see that we are seeking His approval and not the approval of man.
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In the scripture I believe that The Lord’s point was/is that we do not make promises we cannot keep and that we are to be firm in our decision-making. We have a right to make decisions, and indecision is not of God. Indecision broods in confusion, while the Lord is a God of order and of peace.

I believe that everything we do is a choice, some sort of learned behavior; so if God is calling us to watch our mouths it is because we can do it. For example, I’m an assertive and direct person, but because of many misunderstandings I have learned to withhold my thoughts and opinions when dealing with certain people. Balancing between sharing my thoughts and remaining silent is not natural for me, but I do believe God has given me the grace to learn the skill.

I encourage you to be up for the challenge. God brings different things to our attention, and it is because He knows that we are jam packed with His spirit inside us. We can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us: He is the Teacher, the Mighty Counselor, and He is willing to raise us up.

Let’s pray:

Lord God, thank you for being our strength and sustainer, for being our strength and protector, our shield and defense. You are our life coach, and we thank you for the time you invest in each of us. I present to you the things which you have brought to our attention, things we need to learn and relearn. I pray for each individual, and their minds; may you increase our wisdom and confidence so that we are able to walk in newness. May we stick to our decisions, and may we also be honest in our speech. In Jesus name, Amen.