Devotions

Author Archives: Debbie Kerr

2 Corinthians 5:17 

Joseph Forgives Brothers • Devotion #6: 2 Corinthians 5:17
Debbie Kerr | Office Administrator

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

The first Bible verse I learned as a child is, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). Born again believers in Jesus Christ, who have been forgiven of all their sins, should always have a forgiving spirit, right? If only it was that easy. If you have a pulse and are not living on a deserted island, I am pretty sure you deal with the issue of forgiveness. While it is possible and necessary, it requires a transformation from the inside out. That is what the Apostle Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians 5:17. If we are now in Christ, we are a completely new creation; the old man has died, and the new man is in control. As believers, we are to take on the image and characteristics of Christ. Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. Is it just me, or does anyone else find it hypocritical that we have taken His gift of forgiveness and yet we often feel justified to withhold it from others?

The story of Joseph in Genesis is a great picture of true forgiveness. In fact, Joseph is known as a type of Christ. His story foretells what we will come to know as the grace Jesus has given to all who believe and receive His free gift of salvation.  Joseph was severely mistreated by his jealous brothers, thrown into a well, sold into slavery, nearly killed and yet he never retaliated. His response to his brothers came as quite a surprise to them because they knew what they deserved, but instead of yielding his power and authority over them, he said to them, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 20:50a).  He was able to see the bigger picture and put his own hurt and betrayal aside for the greater good, which was to obey and honor God. We never look more like Christ than when we forgive. 

A few reasons why forgiveness is difficult is when the offense is repeated, or there is no apology offered. Deep wounds begin to form, and our hearts begin to harden. The natural tendency is to protect ourselves. This will result in a breakdown in the relationship. We begin to avoid, ignore, and slander.  This progression leads to bitterness, resentment, anger, mistrust, and a whole list of toxic emotions and actions.

Jesus is the ultimate example of forgiveness. He was rejected, beaten, mocked, falsely accused, and killed. Yet, as He hung on a criminal’s cross, He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). The goal of forgiveness, I believe, first and foremost is reconciliation. I encourage you to take a few minutes right now and read Romans 12:14-21. Ask God to reveal any sign of an unforgiving spirit. If our inability to forgive goes unattended and we let bitterness take root, we will soon go from the offended to the offender. It is true that hurting people, hurt people.

2 Corinthians 5:18 says, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”

Communication 

Tower of Babel • Devotion #5: Communication
Debbie Kerr | Office Administrator

When I was 17, our church choir went on a mission trip to Paris, France. Every evening we had the privilege to sing in a different church in the area. We learned to sing one song in French, but all other songs were sung in English. The Gospel message was preached in English with the help of an interpreter. The language barrier was real and evident but, the Spirit of God moved in spite of the barrier. I remember trying to communicate with the French people and how difficult it was; we often resorted to a game of charades. According to Google, there are roughly 6,500 different languages in the world. Have you ever wondered how all the different languages came to be?

In Genesis chapter 11, we read the account of the Tower of Babel, which is only mentioned in this one passage of Scripture. To build this tower out of brick and “slime” used for mortar required a great deal of communication. At the time of this historical event, the whole earth had only one group of people that spoke only one language. Genesis 11:4-9 says, “Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.’ And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.’  So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.”

This account in Genesis chapter 11 describes a very self-serving, prideful, and arrogant people. They wanted to make a name for themselves and make a tower to the heavens. They refused to disperse over all the earth as God had commanded. They stayed near each other to spread their wicked deeds and plan. God in His sovereignty intervened as He always knows our heart motive. 

When we start hearing the word, “I,” “we,” or “us” too often we know we need to check ourselves; it is always a red flag that our hearts are veering off course into a dangerous place. It reminds me of another account in Scripture where the word “I” was the theme.  In Isaiah 14:13-14, God is talking to Lucifer (aka Satan), who also wanted to be like God. The passage says, “You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God. I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’”

Have you had your “I’s” checked lately? Are you communicating the language of Heaven or the language of Hell? Ask the Spirit of God to reveal who is on the throne of your life. Remember, our mouths reveal what our hearts conceal.

Abel’s Sacrifice 

Cain & Abel • Devotion #2: Abel’s Sacrifice
Debbie Kerr | Office Administrator

When you worship God, do you ever wonder if your offering is acceptable? I fear we often enter into worship with self-serving or impure motives. In our corporate gatherings, we worship by singing, giving our tithes and offerings, praying, and listening to the Word of God. Many people enter through the doors of a church with their agenda and ideas as to what worship looks like to them. They will only sing certain songs, or listen to the message if the pastor uses the proper translation. These ideas and motives are completely self-serving. Did you know that God has specific requirements for our offerings of sacrifice and worship? Jesus said we are to worship Him in Spirit and Truth! Worship is not about us, and if we make it about us, we run the risk of our worship being rejected.

God delivered a very serious and sobering message to the people of Israel in 

Amos 5:21-24 regarding acceptable worship, “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Can you say, Ouch? We do not get to define acceptable worship, God does!

It is helpful to take a look at the first account of offering sacrifices to God. In Genesis chapter 4, we learn that Adam and Eve’s sons, Cain and Abel, each brought a different offering to God. Cain was a worker of the ground and Abel was a keeper of sheep. Cain’s offering consisted of “some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord.” His offering was rejected because it was based on works. In Genesis 4:4, we read, “And Abel also brought the firstborn of flock and of their fat portions.” Hebrews 11:4 reads, “By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous. God commending him by accepting his gifts.” What do you think was the difference? The writer of Hebrews reveals, Abel brought his offering out of faith. Some theologians believe Abel’s was more acceptable because it was a blood sacrifice. Genesis chapter 4 does not reveal the reason that Abel’s offering was more acceptable but the passage in Hebrews chapter 11 simply states that it was the better sacrifice. 

Because Abel’s offering was brought by faith is an insight to us that the condition of our heart is more important to God than the style of the offering. In 1 Samuel 15:22, we read, “To obey is better than sacrifice.” God is looking for pure hearts and a life that has been completely surrendered to Him. He no longer requires an animal sacrifice because the Lamb of God, Jesus, shed His blood on the cross and became the blood sacrifice as the only payment needed for our sins. Abel’s sacrifice foreshadowed the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9  

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1

First Name

Worship • Devotion #3: First Name
Debbie Kerr | Office Administrator

“Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name.” Matthew 6:9

My dad taught the Dale Carnegie course for many years. He not only taught it, but he also lived it! One of the first principles in the book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” is the concept of addressing everyone you come in contact with by their first name. According to Mr. Carnegie, there is no sweeter sound to someone’s ears than the sound of their name. The first assignment in the class was to put this principle into practice and the following week give a two-minute talk on the results.  The testimonies were often astounding as people shared their results. People would come alive and change their demeanor or attitude when they were personally recognized and noticed. While addressing someone by their name is effective and important, nothing compares to the power and importance of addressing our Heavenly Father by His holy name in our prayers and petitions to Him.

In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus begins teaching the disciples how to pray, but first he had to show them how not to pray. Starting in verse 5, He said And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.’” He then continues the prayer that is known as The Lord’s Prayer. You will notice that the first part of prayer is acknowledging God as, “Our Father.” He is a personal, approachable, loving, caring Father. Romans 8:15 adds, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!’” Abba means Daddy; He is our Heavenly Daddy!

The second part of the phrase, “hallowed be your Name,” acknowledges His name as holy and sacred, it is to be revered, it is not to be used casually, lightly, or in vain!  When we pray, we are to start off with worship and adoration. He alone is worthy of our praise! While we are to approach Him in reverence, we do not have to approach Him in fear.  Hebrews 4:16 (AKJV) says, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” We do not have to go through a pastor or a priest; we can boldly go straight to the Throne of God.

We are not only to acknowledge His holiness in our prayers, but also through our lives. Worship is a lifestyle; it is not just reserved for an hour on Sunday. Everything we do, whether in word or deed, is to bring glory to God and exalt His name which is above every other name.

“And you will say in that day: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted.’” Isaiah 12:4

God’s Job Description

Wonderful Counselor | Devotion #3: God’s Job Description
Debbie Kerr | Office Administrator

Can you recall the best Christmas gift you ever received? I mean, can you think of the one that made you squeal with delight? This time of year we are inundated with television commercials for the latest and greatest products.  The stores start announcing their door buster sales in early November. Black Friday now begins on Thanksgiving Day before your turkey has had a chance to digest. We can hardly wait to score the hottest ticket items for the best price! We stress and over schedule ourselves throughout December to make our holiday one to remember.  If we are honest, we run ourselves ragged as if it is our job to make everyone on our list happy. When we put our hope in the commercialism of Christmas, we can almost guarantee disappointment and serious debt. If we can set aside the hustle and bustle of the season and focus on the true meaning of Christmas, it can be “the most wonderful time of the year!”  However, it can also be one of the most difficult times of the year that can bring depression, heartache, loneliness, and pain.  

Do you suppose it is a coincidence that the most difficult time of the year is also the same wonderful season we celebrate the greatest Gift of all, the birth of the Savior of the world? He is Immanuel, God with us! God in His abundant love and mercy sent His Only Son not just to save us from our sins but to also save us from ourselves!  The prophet Isaiah foretold hundreds of years before Christ’s birth the titles of Jesus, given to Him by the Father. One of the amazing titles and positions He possesses is our Wonderful Counselor.  He is called Wonderful, or full of wonder! He is amazing, astonishing, awesome, and miraculous! If He is a miracle working Counselor, then sign me up! He understands what our words cannot adequately articulate, counsels us in our decisions, and guides the best direction in life. In every season of life, He is there, ready to give us the counsel and wisdom that we need.  He heals us from the inside out!  Isaiah 61:1-3 (NKJV) gives us Jesus’ job description as our Wonderful Counselor. 

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3 (NKJV)

God also uses earthly counselors as a very real source of comfort and help. There is no shame in counseling with a good Christian counselor, one who knows Jesus does the healing and will point us to His Word and His ways.  Always remember that no one understands like Jesus. 

Have you made your appointment with the Wonderful Counselor?  Maybe a good God counseling session is in order?



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