All posts tagged: devotions

I totally stole that title from the latest LifeChurch.tv teaching series. I’ve been watching each week – and it’s been so good; a little hard to hear, but good. Our own church is in a series called “Life Gets Fit” and we’ve spent a couple weeks on being financially fit (which we all need to hear), which in turns means that we’ve been talking about that in our LifeGroup.

Last night Kevin opened our eyes to some great scriptures on money, and we had a great, encouraging time together. Here are some of the verses.

But those who wish to boast
should boast in this alone:
that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord
who demonstrates unfailing love
and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth,
and that I delight in these things.
I, the Lord, have spoken!
Jeremiah 9:24

Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content

But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
1 Timothy 6:6-9

Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
Luke 12:33-34

Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me!

“But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’

“You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!
Malachi 3:8-10

So, needless to say, I think God is trying to teach us some truths about money from his perspective. It all makes so much sense; Give to God first, what is his, for his purpose, and he will take care of (bless) our lives. It’s just a matter of faith and obedience, things we are still learning. I always think, we so easily trust God with our eternal lives – something completely immeasureable, yet it’s hard for me to write a little check every month! I’ve got a lot of growing to do.

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve take the time to post a Daily Devotion. Today I had extra time to spend reading and hearing the word of God – it was good. I read Psalms 146-150 – here are some of the verses that really spoke to me:

He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry,
The Lord frees the prisoners, The Lord opens the eyes of the blind,
The Lord lifts the burdens of those bent beneath their loads.
The Lord loves the righteous, The Lord protects the foreigners among us.
He cares for the orphans and widows…
– Psalm 146:7-9

He heals the borkenhearted, binding up our wounds…
The Lord supports the humble…
The strength of the horse does not impress him;
how puny in his sight is the strength of a man.
Rather the Lord’s delight is in those who honor him,
those who have put their hope in his unfailing love.
– Psalm 147:3, 6, 10, 11

I will praise the Lord as long as I live.
I will sing praises to my God even with his dying breath.
– Psalm 146:2

That last one really rocked my world. As I am getting older, I am witnessing people pass on more and more. Sometimes it’s really sad, sometimes it’s a quiet lonely time, sometimes it’s dreadfully frightening. Death is a very somber reality; we will all face it someday. And I am not gonna lie – it scares me, even though my faith says that death is mearly a passing onto glory with my heavenly father to a place of peace and everlasting life. This verse just encouraged me to spend my life praising God with every breath, loving my family, my wife, and the people that God brings into my life, until my dying breath comes.

mac & cheeseI came home from vacation tonight for rehearsal (I had to, it was important for me to show the team how seriously I take this time). Anyway so I get home and start getting ready. We had a great rehearsal, good talk, good music, good friends, and our tech team showed up and setup all the songs and videos for the weekend (Thank You!).

Anyway, all that said, I forgot to eat dinner, and now it’s like 9:00pm, Macy is sleeping, so I can’t go out. I start searching the pantry… nothing. The fridge… nothing. The freezer… nothing. Oh my, and the hunger pains hit me, and I feel like I’m gonna pass out anytime now. So I find a box of Macaroni & Cheese, but we have no milk, so I make a bowl of Macaroni & “no cheese”. Hey it did the job.

As I was going through this process, this verse came to my mind:

My food, said Jesus, is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.

Sometimes I feel like this verse is literal. Sometimes I get going and so excited about my work that I don’t eat, and it doesn’t bother me too much. I’m sure that it’s not healthy, but I love doing what I do so much that sometimes I feel like I could pass on the food and do more ministry… Just a thought.

applauseToday I begin the journey through Matthew 6. Jesus continues teaching his disciples from the “Sermon on the Mount”. I’ve heard before that this is crucial teaching that he was sharing with his closest disciples. Not that any of his other teaching is less important, just that this was “face time” with the Song of God, teaching on the basic fundamentals of being a Christ follower. That’s why I am just taking little bits and really trying to see what God is saying into my life today, so far it’s been really refreshing and challenging.

So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full

Matthew 6:2

As I was reading & studying this verse, I really began to think about the motive behind what we do as servants of Christ. Whether “professional”, 0r volunteer ministers. I know this is primarily about giving to the needy, but I wonder if it applies to every area of service – what we do in the name of Jesus Christ.

I’m a pastor & worship leader. I disciple people, lead people in worship, teach from God’s Word, create marketing plans, organize and plan out weekend services – and all the administrative and mundane tasks that go along with that. Why do I do this? Well, here’s a short list:

  • I’ve known almost my whole life that this is what I was created for
  • I love seeing people grow in their relationships with God and others
  • I love seeing the church worship together
  • I love seeing the Gospel represented in a way that reaches out in today’s culture
  • I seem to be relatively good at what I do

The thing that is a little harder to nail down though is, what do I get out of it? Am I seeking some kind of reward? Would I do it if there was no “applause”, no encouragement, no worldly compensation? Another way of putting it is – is my greatest satisfaction knowing that God is pleased and his name is made great through my meager service?

I think this is an easy trap to fall into as a pastor or worship leader. We get our kudos every week when we “do our thing”. People come up and say things like:

  • Oh the worship was HOT today!
  • That song was amazing!
  • That message was so relevant
  • That talk was so creative
  • That graphic you made was insane!
  • I just love it when you…

Now don’t get me wrong – I hear my share of critique as well, and encouragement is a great way to get people to continue serving and growing. But does my joy come from hearing those things? Or does my joy come from knowing that God is pleased with my lifestyle, my relationship with him, and my relationship with others? Check this verse out:

Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done

Revelation 22:12

Here’s the bottom line: I just really want my life to be about making the name of Jesus Christ big. I don’t want pride to be constantly rearing it’s ugly head in my life. I want the reward of spending a lifetime serving and an eternity with my God and savior to be enough.

Wrapping up Matthew 5 today – it’s taken longer than I thought, but I’m getting back on track here with doing these on the blog. I wanted to also share with you 2 sites that I am excited about. The first is eBible, I stumbled upon this and I really like the web 2.0ness of it as an online Bible study tool, way better than Biblegateway or some of the others. Also, coming soon from Lifechurch.tv is YouVersion 2.o, what should prove to be a very web 2.0 community based online Bible study site.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?

And from Nelson’s Commentary on this portion of Scripture:

The Christian may live above the demands of the Law and the temptations of the world because he has an inner depth of character which is the product of the divine nature within him.

I’ve always struggled with these portions of Scripture, and I am not really sure why…? It’s pretty plain and simple. Earlier Jesus says to always give to those who want to borrow, and to turn the other cheek, and to give someone your coat if they want to sue you and take your “tunic“. Always giving, always forgiving, beyond what people deserve. It’s what God did for us, does He expect us to do any less? We are to be “perfect”.
But we’re not.
Here’s the issue that’s the biggest I struggle with. I want to strive to be like this in my life (and not just with my “enemies”). But I find that a lot of Christian leadership, behind closed doors and in public talk about getting fair treatment, especially when dealing with “the world”. When churches build, they expect perfection at a discounted price. When they purchase a product, they haggle to the lowest possible price and then complain about shoddy service. They are always renegotiating prices, looking for the next lowest price, completely negating the relationship that could be built between the church and the company – or even worse, taking advantage of the relationship to squeeze an even better deal out of them. The explanation I hear on this issue is that the church has to show “good stewardship” with “God’s money”.
When someone wrongs someone in the church, especially a minister, the church gets all up in arms about justice and being held “accountable”. I’ve heard so many pastors teach from the pulpit that “Jesus said to turn the other cheek, but you’ve only got two cheeks”, and they fail to mention that Jesus also said to forgive someone “seventy times seven”, which is an analogy for unending forgiveness.
To me it’s no wonder that people don’t want to have anything to do with the church. We’ve defaulted on one of Jesus’ most basic teachings – love your enemies, love those who persecute you, love those who sue you, love those who take advantage of you – in fact don’t just love them, give them what they want and more because that is what God has done.
Maybe I am leaning too far on one side right now – what do you think?