Devotions

Author Archives: James Mann

Lesson Ten • Devotion #5: Repent

I was five years old when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. The problem was that at that age, I did not understand that concept of my life needing to change. This idea that my life was no longer my own did not make sense. I went through the majority of my childhood, living my life for my own enjoyment. It was not until I was 17 that I realized something was wrong and missing. There was one of those moments in life that hit me, right in the gut, and I will never forget it. I was hanging out with my friends from school, being a “normal” high school student, when one of my unsaved friends looked at me and said, “You know, if you did not talk about church all the time, we would have no idea that you were a Christian.” To them, that was a compliment because I was like them and I was not uptight like much of the world perceives Christians to be. To me, that was one of the wake-up calls in my life. 

In 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, we read, “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”   

When we are going through our day-to-day busy lives, we need to take the time to evaluate why we are doing the things that we are doing. Are we doing it for our families? Are we doing it to fit in with those around us? Are we doing it for ourselves? We need to make sure that our motivation for doing things in our lives can be traced back to the One who died for us. People should be able to look at you, and the things you do, and just know that there is something different about you. When they talk about you, one of the first things they should say about you is, “Oh, James sure does love his God.” There is no better way to be described. 

The question becomes, “How do we get there?” The answer is simple, but the application might not be. We need to live our lives for Him. If we cannot trace the things we are doing back to Him, then we need to evaluate why we are doing it. We cannot live this life for ourselves because it is not ours. He gave His life so that we could have ours; therefore, we should live our lives in a way that is honoring and glorifying to Him. Our whole creation was done so that we can reflect His image and who He is. This is something that we should take more seriously and make sure that when we look in a mirror, this is what we are seeing. 

Lesson Two • Devotion #3: Lean on Me

The book of 2 Corinthians serves as a letter written by Paul for the Church of Corinth. In this letter, Paul elaborates and clarifies different things that he had written in 1 Corinthians, as well as giving the church new instructions to follow. These instructions are still relevant in our churches today. This is one reason why these letters are so crucial for us to be discussing and learning from today. By reading and studying the history and downfalls of the Church of Corinth, we can grow and avoid the same shortcomings within our own church. While this is something to look for in 2 Corinthians, it is something we should be looking for throughout the entirety of the Bible. One of the most prominent themes you will come across throughout 2 Corinthians is the idea of needing to lean on Christ in our times of suffering. We are unable to do what is needed to be done out of our own strength. Only through Him can we find the strength needed.

Another reason for this letter to be written is that there was another group of people on the opposition with Paul’s instructions, which he refers to as false apostles. Paul even goes as far as to refer to these false apostles as servants of Satan (11:14-15). Paul spends a good amount of time calling out those who are doing wrong and their need to change their ways. This should serve as a warning to us as believers that the enemy is trying to put people in our paths who are trying to persuade us that their way is right, but in reality, they could not be further away from God and His plans. We need to use discernment when listening to others and make sure it aligns with the teachings of God. We do this by praying to God and asking for Him to show us His paths. 

Paul closes this book, in chapter 13, warning the Church of Corinth of his third visit. Paul tells them that if their ways are not changed, he will deal with them with the power of God Himself backing him. This idea of Paul’s third return is terrifying if you think about it. He is not coming alone but instead with the wrath of God alongside him. We need to realize that judgment day is coming. We do not know when that day is. The book of 2 Corinthians serves as an excellent layout for how we should be living our Christian lives. The wrath of God will be upon those who do not follow His teachings on that day as well. We should start living our lives for Him now rather than later because later might be too late.

I Am: The Resurrection and the Life • Devotion #3: Reassurance and Comfort

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’” John 11:25-26

What this verse does, is it gives us reassurance and comfort. In this passage of Scripture, we see Jesus comforting Martha after the death of Lazarus. One of the hardest things to deal with in our lives on earth is the death of someone we love. It is a feeling that never goes away. We can be going about our day just fine, and something sparks a memory that makes it hard to breathe. For me, that is my grandpa. He was my best friend. Before he passed away, he gave me an old Yukon. Ten years later, I still find myself sitting in that Yukon, and I cannot breathe. I instantly feel the tears well up and the desire to have him in my life still comes rushing back. The desire to have him tell me that he is proud of me and that he loves me one more time takes over. The feeling of sadness knowing my future family will never know that amazing man hurts me. These are the feelings that many of us have at the loss of a loved one. These are probably some of the same feelings Martha had at the loss of her brother.

Luckily, Jesus gave Martha a promise, and that promise holds true to us as well. Jesus tells us that He is the “Resurrection and the Life.” While this might sound confusing, that is why context is crucial because He goes on to explain Himself. By believing in Him, our death is not our final frontier. Instead, through death, we find life. Through believing in Him and dying, we enter into our complete relationship with Him. This should give us a sense of reassurance. When we take our last breath here, we take our first one in eternity. We just have to believe in Him. This should build a sense of urgency to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and lead nonbelievers to Him. 

This is where I found my comfort upon my grandpa’s death. I believe that my grandpa left this earthly world and entered into Heaven with his creator. That feeling that he is in a place of perfection gives me a sense of peace. This does not mean that I still do not sit in that Yukon and cry or come across one of his old business cards and sit there holding it just thinking about him for endless amounts of time. What it does mean though, is that I know where he is, and I know where I will be someday because I believe in Him. The same goes for you if you believe.

I Am: The Light of the World • Devotion #2: Night Light

Growing up, I was terrified of the dark. I remember having so many night lights on that it would have made more sense just to leave on the lights. I have an unusual living situation; I am living alone in the house I grew up in as a child. Still, to this day, I am convinced that a witch is living in the dark corner of my crawl space, and when I turn the lights off in the basement, I do not take my time going up the stairs. These thoughts and fears are so typical for young children, and apparently someone in their mid-20’s. I want you to think for a second, “Why is this?” In the darkness, we cannot see what is around us. As a child, we often think of monsters roaming around in the dark. We do not feel safe. If we cannot see what is around us, how are we supposed to protect ourselves? So, what do we do when we are feeling unsafe in the darkness? We simply turn on a light.

In John 8:12, we see Jesus making the statement, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” What Jesus is saying here is, “Listen, if you follow me, you no longer will have to walk in fear of the unknown. As long as you stay with me and on my path, I will protect you and care for you.” 

I do not know about you, but the idea of the Son of God being the One who protects me sounds way safer than a night light. Like many things, this protection does come at a price. The only thing Jesus is asking for here is for you to simply follow Him. If we follow Him, we no longer have to worry about this darkness that is in the world because He will make the darkness run and hide. I never understood how someone could feel safe in the world in which we are living. It is a scary place when you sit back and look at it. It has become a place where most parents will not even let their children walk down the street to play with their friends anymore, and I cannot blame them one bit. We need protection from this darkness because there is only so much we can do on our own. We need the One who will drown out the darkness and cover it with His light. We need to start following this Light. 

Reset • Devotion #5: Follow Instructions

In a previous devotional, you read about finding a physician. When you find a physician and they diagnose the problem, they will often give you instructions to follow. It is not often when these instructions are something enjoyable and allows you to perform life as if nothing happened. Many people can agree with me that we like to follow the instructions to the bare minimum and wind up ending the instructions before when we should. 

When I was 17-years old, I broke my back in a bounce house. I was told I should be dead or paralyzed. I stayed in the hospital for a few days and was released with a full torso, hard plastic, back brace, and a walker. I was told I would be wearing this brace for the next six months and had to use the walker as much as possible for stability. I could no longer do the simple things of life by myself, like bathing myself, getting in and out of bed, or even walking up the stairs. Being a stubborn man, I was only going to do this for as long as I felt it was necessary. Towards the end of my six months, I remember going to student camp back in 2012 and convincing my parents I would wear my brace the entire time. Being a high school boy, not wanting this brace to “cramp my style,” I took off the brace as soon as I got on the bus and did not wear it again until I was getting off the bus a week later. Truthfully, this did more harm to my body than good. It was that summer that I realized my back would lock up and not allow my legs to kick in the water anymore. I realized this as I was swimming across Rifle River with my friends. I began to drown and would have died that day if it was not for a friend who turned around and took me back to shore. 

We need to understand that we are not the professionals here. When it comes to our bodies, doctors are professionals. When it comes to our spiritual well-being, God is the professional. When we are trying to heal our brokenness within our family, we need to look to God as our physician and then follow the instructions He gives to us. James 1:5-7 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.” We need to remember that God is all-knowing, and when He shows us how we can fix our family, we need to follow it. You may be asking where to find these instructions. Simply pray to Him and trust that He will show you the way. Also, make sure you are spending time reading His Word. Often, your answers are already given to you there.



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