Devotions

Devotions

 

Memory Verse of The Week

“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10, ESV


Monday

Mirror, Mirror 
 
Kimberly Lawrence 
 
Today’s Scripture: “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18, ESV 
 
Theme: Love others by your actions and not just your words. 
 
REFLECTIONS 
 
Mirroring is a behavior where one person subconsciously imitates the gestures, speech, pattern, or attitude of another. It occurs in social situations and often positively affects the rapport built with another person. Over time, it’s been proven that close friends or family members unknowingly begin to resemble one another through similar characteristics or mannerisms. 
 
UNCONSCIOUS IMITATION 
 
Have you ever noticed a young child who stands, sits, or holds their hands a certain way…just like dad? Maybe they throw a dishtowel over their shoulder just like the grandparent they spend a lot of time with. Or they exhibit the accent, manner of speech, or frequent phrase of their favorite pre-school teacher. All of these are learned behaviors from someone who, maybe unintentionally, modeled them for them. We innately incorporate the recurring behaviors we see into our subconscious…both good and bad. This also explains why the cycles of abuse and neglect in children are so difficult to break; it’s what they have unfortunately seen modeled during their young lives. Then they repeat those same behaviors.  
 
A PERFECT EXAMPLE 
 
Jesus provided the greatest example; He is the one on whom we should mirror our actions. When He was faced with insults and attempts to trick Him into fruitless debates, He didn’t engage. When people wanted Him to demonstrate His power through war and bloodshed, He chose to love and show mercy. When He was hung from a cross, He begged for the Father’s forgiveness on behalf of the very people who were torturing Him.   
 
TRYING TO REFLECT JESUS 
 
What are the behaviors you are modeling and reflecting for others today? Are those actions consistent with the example Jesus provided about how to treat others? Are you short-tempered or impatient? Or do you take a deep breath before you react in a stressful situation? Do you use salty, crass language? Or is your conversation full of grace, seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6)? Do you enjoy a debate for the sport of it, with a disregard for how it makes your “opponent” feel? Or do you weigh which battles you really need to fight and enter into them with fear and trembling, careful about the impact of your words? 
 
Pray: I pray, Lord, that You will help me see the truth about the way I treat others and whether I am reflecting You to them. Help me to act in a manner that brings people together and leads them to You. I want my focus to be on creating peace and love, so that I move out of the way and allow others to see You clearly. Amen. 
 
Weekly Memory Verse:  
“Be still, and know that I am God. 
I will be exalted among the nations, 
I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10, ESV 
 


Read:  Colossians 4:6; Hebrews 13:16; Philippians 2:1-2 
Tuesday

Extending Forgiveness 
Noelle McDermott 
 
Today’s Scripture: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32, ESV 
 
Theme: Forgive knowing you’ve been forgiven.  
 
HEADSTRONG CHILD 
 
After serving in children’s ministry for six years, it felt as though there would always be a few kids each weekend who were reluctant to participate. They didn’t want to sit in their small group, didn’t want to do the craft, or didn’t want to listen at all. I would often be called over by another volunteer to give them focused attention and to try persuading them. But, like many children, once they were set upon something (playing Bop It! or running around the room), there wasn’t much to dissuade them. They would insist upon what they wanted, and, if they did give up, they would do so reluctantly and begrudgingly. 
 
A MERCIFUL KING AND HIS UNMERCIFUL SERVANT 
 
Check out this parable which Jesus taught and is recorded in Matthew 18. He begins by introducing a king who was owed 10,000 talents by a servant. (10,000 talents would equal 200,000 years’ wages.) The servant could never pay off such a debt, and the king ordered both his family and possessions to be sold. However, when he pled for mercy, the king showed mercy and forgave him entirely of his debt. No reduced debt or interest; the servant no longer owed the king anything. 
 
This same servant encountered a fellow servant who owed him 100 denarii. (100 denarii would equal one-third of a year’s wages.) He began choking him and demanding that he “pay what [he] owe.” Pleading, the second servant repeated almost exactly what the first servant had said earlier to the king; but the first servant threw him into jail until the debt could be paid. 
 
As their fellow servants witnessed this, they became “greatly distressed” and told the king of the servant’s hypocrisy. The king called the servant in and said this: “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?”  
 
A FORGIVING HEART 
 
Often, we refuse to forgive others’ offenses toward us. Like that stubborn child in Cove Kids, we hang on to our preferences. We pout or we posture. We are unwilling to bend or change. We form our own opinions of those who have wronged us and decide that they are unworthy of our forgiveness. Perhaps we say in word that we have forgiven them, but in our thoughts and in our hearts we have not. We believe that they should pay what they owe or that our resentment is a fitting punishment.  
 
However, the Lord tells us we must not resent others but to instead put away “all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander…along will all malice” (Ephesians 4:31. ESV). Through forgiveness, we model the Father’s forgiveness towards us and consequently, can better love those around us.  
 
Make It Personal: Since we have received the gift of forgiveness through Jesus, what prevents you from extending forgiveness to others? How does forgiveness bring about peace?  
 
Pray: Lord, show me the areas in my life where I’m not choosing to forgive. Help me to reflect You to those who have wronged me or whom I don’t agree with. I pray that I choose to see them the way that You see them. That I love the way You love. That I extend the same mercy and forgiveness You have extended to me. Amen. 
 
Weekly Memory Verse:  
“Be still, and know that I am God. 
    I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10, ESV 
 


Read: Matthew 18:21-35;  Ephesians 4:31;  Romans 12:17-21 
Wednesday

LONG BOOTS, HARD BOOTS 
 
Carey Madding 
 
Today’s Scripture: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11, ESV 
 
Theme: Encourage others with life-giving words. 
 
CUT DOWN 
 
We know the power of words. We have used them in anger, or we remember insults that have cut us to the bone. Hurtful words create scars that can last for a lifetime. 
 
“Look out how you use proud words. 
When you let proud words go, it is not easy to call them back. 
They wear long boots, hard boots; they walk off proud; they can’t hear you calling - 
Look out how you use proud words.” ― Carl Sandburg 
 
CIVIL DISCOURSE 
 
Our country was created with a tension between freedom, rights, and civility. We have the right to form our opinions and share them. We also have the God-given responsibility to be loving and kind when we do so. We should discuss—in our homes, our churches, our Life Groups, and our neighborhoods—our differences, so that we can come to an understanding of each other's hopes, dreams, fears, and concerns. But I do not think that the place for most of this discussion is on social media.  
 
Have I unfriended people? No. Have I unfollowed or muted them for a season? Yes. Because no matter which political persuasion or issue we are touting, if it is not done in love and with the hope of encouraging understanding and discourse, it is tearing down. It’s so easy to throw out hurtful memes or rhetoric when we are not face to face with our “enemies.” Have we convinced anyone? Changed their opinion? No. In fact, I am having to work really hard at not thinking most people I know have lost their minds, no matter what they are saying. Rather than shaking my confidence in my own opinions, my faith in people is what is being shaken! 
 
BUT GOD 
 
Yet God has given us guidance. “But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:8-11, ESV).  
 
USE YOUR WORDS 
 
When we demonize each other, calling each other sons of the devil, we are close to attributing works of God to Satan. For we are all children of God, even if we are not doing His will. Love in spite of differences. Love to overcome differences. Love to bring about the Kingdom of God and peace. Use your words for good; use your words to build up. Use them to shine Jesus to the nations.  
 
Make It Personal: Consider this verse: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14, ESV). Review your week: your emails, phone calls, your posts, your arguments. Go deeper and consider the thoughts you have had, specifically negative thoughts about someone else. Make any adjustments God prompts you to make. Repair what God tells you to repair. Ask Him to help you think and speak as He would have you think and speak. 
 
Pray: God, my pride and ego convinces me that my opinions are perfectly right. Help me to see clearly. Help me to remember Your grace to me, even when I was lost in my unjust thoughts and actions. Help me to lay aside my rights and “rightness” in favor of my friends. Help me to apply that same grace to the faceless “enemies” I am condemning or speaking out about. Help me to love deeply, for love covers a multitude of wrongs—both mine and theirs. Thank You, God, for Your supernatural grace, peace, and healing. Bring about restoration in our land, our families, and our churches. In Jesus’ Name. Amen. 
 
Weekly Memory Verse:  
“Be still, and know that I am God. 
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10, ESV 
 


Read: Matthew 15:7-11, 12:36-37;  James 3:9-10;  1 Peter 3:8-11 
Thursday

Generosity is Love Out Loud 
Kendra Intihar 
 
Today’s Scripture: “It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; 
  who conducts his affairs with justice.” Psalm 112:5, ESV 
 
Theme: Generosity builds bridges. 
 
UNFATHOMABLE WEALTH 
 
America’s 614 billionaires grew their net worth by $931 billion over the last year. Let’s visualize that for just a second: If you spent $1 million per month, it would take you 83 years to spend $1 billion dollars. How old will you be in 83 years? Yep…me too. Jeff Bezos, the guy in charge of Amazon, accounts for a full $100 billion. This means that if he spent $1 million per month, it would take him 830 years to spend all $100 billion he earned during 2020 and a full 1,660 years to spend the entirety of his current net worth. Phew. We live in a country of unfathomable wealth. 
 
CALLED TO SHARE 
 
In our culture, the accumulation of wealth is a virtue. Having money means you have worked hard (an American virtue), saved money (an American virtue), and avoided poverty (an American virtue). These are not bad things, and in fact, the Bible tells us we should make a habit of saving money (Proverbs 13:11) so that we can leave an inheritance for our grandchildren (Proverbs 13:22).  
 
However, the Bible never considers wealth a virtue unless we’re using it in the service of others. In fact, Jesus taught us by parable that hoarding wealth is a vice (Luke 12:16-21). When we have what we need, we are not called to think of creative ways to enjoy our wealth; we are called to share it for the purpose of making our world more just and more loving.  
 
GENEROSITY IS A VIRTUE 
 
Consider the story Jesus tells of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. In the story, the rich man is dressed in the nicest clothing that money could buy (“purple and fine linen”) and “lived in luxury every day” (v.19). Lazarus the beggar, a man who presumably could not walk (because he “was laid” at the rich man’s gate) longed for a mere crumb from the rich man’s table. But the rich man could not be bothered to part with his luxury.  
 
In the story, as in every message Jesus preached, the proud man was eventually (after death) made low and the humble man was exalted. But the message is clear: The rich man’s wealth was useless because he did not use it for just purposes. He did not use it to care for his neighbor. What would Lazarus’ life have looked like if the rich man had sacrificed his “purple and fine linen” so that his neighbor would not be hungry? What would have changed for the rich man had he sought the welfare of his neighbor and cared for him as he cared for himself? 
 
Jesus tells us story after story about what we should be doing with our wealth. We should be sacrificially giving to those in need (Matthew 19:21). We should by no means exploit those in the margins (Mark 12:38-44). We should be careful not to idolize our money (Matthew 6:24). Let me be clear: There is nothing wrong with having money. Some of Jesus’ dearest friends were wealthy and His work was financed through the wealth of others. Money and wealth in and of themselves are not bad things. The problems with wealth arise when we hoard it and refuse to live with a spirit of generosity. Living generously shows that we take Jesus seriously. 
 
Make It Personal: Consider: If the greatest commandment is to love God and love others, then what does that imply about what we should be doing with our money? How could our generosity help change someone’s life? How could the generosity of the Church change the world? How is wealth a tool that can build bridges of peace and reconciliation? 
 
Pray: Father God, we thank You for the financial resources You have blessed us with. We know that You provide for us and that every good gift is from You. Lord, help us to properly steward the resources You’ve entrusted to us. You have given us enough that our neighbors do not need to be hungry, thirsty, naked, or without shelter. Manifest radical generosity in our lives for the sake of others. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 
 
Weekly Memory Verse:  
“Be still, and know that I am God. 
I will be exalted among the nations, 
I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10, ESV 
 


Read:  1 John 3:17; Matthew 6:19-24; 1 Timothy 6:17-19 
Friday

Generosity is Love Out Loud 
Kendra Intihar 
 
Today’s Scripture: “It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; 
  who conducts his affairs with justice.” Psalm 112:5, ESV 
 
Theme: Generosity builds bridges. 
 
UNFATHOMABLE WEALTH 
 
America’s 614 billionaires grew their net worth by $931 billion over the last year. Let’s visualize that for just a second: If you spent $1 million per month, it would take you 83 years to spend $1 billion dollars. How old will you be in 83 years? Yep…me too. Jeff Bezos, the guy in charge of Amazon, accounts for a full $100 billion. This means that if he spent $1 million per month, it would take him 830 years to spend all $100 billion he earned during 2020 and a full 1,660 years to spend the entirety of his current net worth. Phew. We live in a country of unfathomable wealth. 
 
CALLED TO SHARE 
 
In our culture, the accumulation of wealth is a virtue. Having money means you have worked hard (an American virtue), saved money (an American virtue), and avoided poverty (an American virtue). These are not bad things, and in fact, the Bible tells us we should make a habit of saving money (Proverbs 13:11) so that we can leave an inheritance for our grandchildren (Proverbs 13:22).  
 
However, the Bible never considers wealth a virtue unless we’re using it in the service of others. In fact, Jesus taught us by parable that hoarding wealth is a vice (Luke 12:16-21). When we have what we need, we are not called to think of creative ways to enjoy our wealth; we are called to share it for the purpose of making our world more just and more loving.  
 
GENEROSITY IS A VIRTUE 
 
Consider the story Jesus tells of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. In the story, the rich man is dressed in the nicest clothing that money could buy (“purple and fine linen”) and “lived in luxury every day” (v.19). Lazarus the beggar, a man who presumably could not walk (because he “was laid” at the rich man’s gate) longed for a mere crumb from the rich man’s table. But the rich man could not be bothered to part with his luxury.  
 
In the story, as in every message Jesus preached, the proud man was eventually (after death) made low and the humble man was exalted. But the message is clear: The rich man’s wealth was useless because he did not use it for just purposes. He did not use it to care for his neighbor. What would Lazarus’ life have looked like if the rich man had sacrificed his “purple and fine linen” so that his neighbor would not be hungry? What would have changed for the rich man had he sought the welfare of his neighbor and cared for him as he cared for himself? 
 
Jesus tells us story after story about what we should be doing with our wealth. We should be sacrificially giving to those in need (Matthew 19:21). We should by no means exploit those in the margins (Mark 12:38-44). We should be careful not to idolize our money (Matthew 6:24). Let me be clear: There is nothing wrong with having money. Some of Jesus’ dearest friends were wealthy and His work was financed through the wealth of others. Money and wealth in and of themselves are not bad things. The problems with wealth arise when we hoard it and refuse to live with a spirit of generosity. Living generously shows that we take Jesus seriously. 
 
Make It Personal: Consider: If the greatest commandment is to love God and love others, then what does that imply about what we should be doing with our money? How could our generosity help change someone’s life? How could the generosity of the Church change the world? How is wealth a tool that can build bridges of peace and reconciliation? 
 
Pray: Father God, we thank You for the financial resources You have blessed us with. We know that You provide for us and that every good gift is from You. Lord, help us to properly steward the resources You’ve entrusted to us. You have given us enough that our neighbors do not need to be hungry, thirsty, naked, or without shelter. Manifest radical generosity in our lives for the sake of others. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 
 
Weekly Memory Verse:  
“Be still, and know that I am God. 
I will be exalted among the nations, 
I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10, ESV 
 


Read: 1 John 3:17; Matthew 6:19-24; 1 Timothy 6:17-19 

 

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