Author Archives: James Mann

Meek • Devotion #2: Where Are You Pointing?

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5

The concept of meekness is an interesting one in dealing with the Bible. We often hear people discussing it as the same thing as humility. I want us to take a moment and think about our lives and all the fantastic things that we have accomplished in our time here on Earth. Some might be able to think of something that was a personal accomplishment or something that helped others in need. These are all amazing in their own way. The question I want to bring up today is, who did you point to in those moments when you accomplished these things and felt like you were on top of the world? It is easy for us to point to ourselves in our accomplishments. I am speaking from experience here. Often, we get so caught up in the moment, and we are excited about all the praise that we are receiving. We think about all the time that we spent trying to achieve this remarkable feat, but what good does this do for anyone? The thing is, without help, we cannot accomplish anything worthwhile.

Before reading any further, I want to encourage you to read Romans chapter 7.

Romans chapter 7 does a fantastic job of explaining our fleshly desires. Verse 21 states, “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.” Our inward being desires to do good, but our outward flesh often acts in evil ways. We have no reason, as sinful humans, for us to be prideful in our actions. When we accomplish amazing things, we need to remember that we have no reason to point to ourselves, but instead, we should point to our Lord. Only through our God do we have the ability to do these great things. We are truly blessed to have a God that gives us the opportunity to be the tool that He uses in order to make great things happen.

Referring back to the opening Beatitude, God blesses those who are meek and point to Him. Only through our meekness do we have the God-given ability to inherit the Earth. It is not by our own accord but through His grace. My challenge for you is that whenever you do something that people are praising you for, turn the praise to the One who actually achieved the feat. By pointing to Him, we are pointing the world to the One who can save them from their sinful ways. Sometimes for us to do this, with the right mindset, we need to take a step back and evaluate what we have really done and seen for ourselves, that we have done nothing, and that our Lord truly made the way for this to happen.

Lesson Eighteen • Devotion #5: God Picking Us Up

A passage that has always stood out to me is 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. We see Paul struggling with the sins and problems of this world, and he is praying for God to take away this struggle. He talks with God, and God tells Paul that through Paul’s weakness, God’s power will be made perfect. The passage ends with Paul being content, and he understands, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” The portion that always stood out is the fact that this thorn is never leaving the flesh of Paul. His weakness is still left intact. Even though Paul has prayed to God, this pain never left him. I have always wondered why God did not remove this from His follower until I became an adult. 

In the home I grew up in, whenever I was struggling with something in life, I had one of my parents to lean on to help me. No matter what the problem was, I knew they would be there. Once I grew up and decided it was time to be an adult and start handling things on my own, I realized how having someone to lean on gave me a sense of security and power. I had to fight the desire to fall back to my parents for help just to feel safe again. I believed that going through these hard times was what was going to make me stronger in the end. I was following the mindset of the great philosopher, Alfred Pennyworth, who said, “We fall so that we can learn to pick ourselves back up.” 

I did not realize as a child how difficult it is to live in this world. There is sin around every corner that tries to call you in and make your life miserable. That is when I discovered something about God and this passage. When we are at our weakest, we realize we are in need of someone that is stronger than the situation in which we find ourselves. That is where God comes in and helps. In my weakness, I realized how much I truly needed Him. His perfection and power shined into my life when I did not think there was light at the end of the tunnel. Even though He did not pull me out of the struggles and take the thorn out, He gave me that person to lean on. We do not fall so that we can learn to pick ourselves back up. Instead, we fall so that we can learn to put our trust in God to help pick us back up. When I am at my weakest point, my relationship and bond with Him become stronger, and for that, I am content.  

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.

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