Author Archives: James Mann

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.

Reach • Devotion #1: Selling Eternity

Who has ever followed the latest and greatest fad in the world? Usually, these fads are some kind of “get rich quick” program. They always say that for someone to be successful with these, they cannot have any sort of shame in it. Most of the time, you hear people talking about these systems and they are always trying to sell you on it. This is not me bashing them whatsoever but instead praising them. Many of them believe that the product they are selling is life-changing and they want you to be a part of it. In their minds, their product is so amazing that there is no reason for them to feel shame in pushing it on other people. As many of us know, most of these businesses have an expiration date. They are only good for so long. As someone who used to sell LuLaRoe, I can attest to this. 

This leads to something interesting. There is a product out there that does not have an expiration date. People have been “selling” it for centuries and it is still relevant. I can also guarantee that you will become extremely wealthy in selling this product. I bet you would want to be a part of this sales team. Many of you have already picked up on this product and are cringing at the cheesiness of the previous statements. The product is the love and grace of God. The problem is many of us do not go out of our way to sell this to people. We are almost ashamed to do so, unlike those selling their “get rich quick” products.Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” We need to be going out of our way to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with everyone knowing that it is a product everyone needs. Oh, and the guarantee of becoming extremely wealthy early on; we can know that we are doing the work of God in assisting people to reach eternal life. To me, that is worth more than any dollar amount. 

1 John 5 • Devotion #5: Reminder

“We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:18-20

As I read through this passage of Scripture, I realized that the apostle John is not treating this section as new information being given to his audience. John is not ending this letter with any mind-blowing information. Instead, John chooses to have this section serve as a reminder to the believers reading this of things that have already been taught either earlier in this letter, or the Gospels themselves. Why is this so important?

Being that I am not yet a parent, I cannot attest to the parental side of this, but I can speak for the child side of what I am about to say. I can remember growing up and having my parents tell me things multiple times. Usually, the things that mattered the most were told to me hundreds, if not thousands, of times. These were the things that were life and death. Sometimes I would understand and follow these things right away, and then sometimes it took thousands of times to hear it until it finally clicked, and I began to understand the importance of what was being told to me. The same thing is going on here. If we, as followers of Christ, could read the Bible once and understand and apply everything we have learned to our lives the first time, life would be amazing. Instead, it takes multiple times hearing and trying to follow the Scriptures until it finally sticks.

The apostle John is wrapping up his letter with reminders to stop living in our sinful ways. We need to understand that God will protect us, and if we are faithful followers, then the evil one cannot touch us. We need to remember that we live in a world that is filled with the power of the evil one. Finally, we need to understand that God has given us understanding so that we may know Him and understand that through His Son, Jesus Christ, we can have eternal life. This should serve as our battle cry as followers of Christ. We are so blessed to have a God that has given us protection from the desires of the evil one and has given us the ability to live eternally through Him. 

Government • Devotion #6: Why?

I do not know about you, but I do not always agree with the decisions made by the people that are put in charge. I am a headstrong individual who knows what I want, and I am not going to bend on those things. I can easily find myself in the mindset, “I am right, and no matter how you explain yourself, you are wrong.” This mindset can easily find you in a hard place in dealing with who is in charge. I do not know about you, but when someone explains to me biblically why something is the way that it is, I may not like it, but I cannot argue it. We are going to be doing just that with the question of, “Why is this person the boss?” You can also ask the question, “Why must I submit to this person?”

This question can quickly be answered by looking to Romans 13:1-2, which says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” Before I even break this down, I want to clarify something. Many people will argue and say that the “authorities” that are discussed here are angels. This can be disproven by looking at Romans 13:6. Here, we are called to pay taxes to these authorities. We do not pay taxes to angels, but we do to the earthly authorities. This tells us that the Bible is, in fact, talking about those authorities.

There is something important in Romans 13:1-2 that we need to hear and understand clearly. God has appointed these authorities. We may not agree with everything they say or do, but God appointed them. We are not above God; therefore, we are not above those whom God has placed above us. We might even argue that the things the authorities are doing are ungodly deeds. Since these people are above us, they are not for us to judge and deal with, that is God’s position. As believers, we only have two things we must do in the matters of the authorities. First of all, we must follow them because God has appointed them. Second, the only time that we can resist these powers is when they demand the position that is only allowed to God. We can see this played out in the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. King Nebuchadnezzar demanded to be treated like a god, and these men would not obey. We can read this story and watch God protect these men because they were following Him.

What this means for us is that we should follow those whom God has placed in the position of authority and understand that He is in control. We should find comfort in that when things do not go the way we want. 

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