Devotions

Author Archives: Pat Bedell

Road to Emmaus • Devotion #5: Beside Yourself

When I was in college, I took both psychology and sociology courses which opened a new perspective on viewing interactions of those around me. I learned about body language, physical nuances when people get nervous, mental stress when others are watching you perform tasks, and other interesting reactions to certain situations. All of these, with many other variables, are what make everyone unique in perspective and responsiveness in everyday life.

When we are walking down the road of life as an unbeliever, we find ourselves living a carefree and sin-filled way. I never cared to get an accountability partner to help with any of my struggles. Also, being a “macho” early twenties male, I thought I did not need any help from anyone and I could find my own way. We, as broken and sinful people, cannot do it alone. We need to invite God into our lives like Cleopas invited Jesus into their home in Luke chapter 24. Only He can give us comfort and peace and deliver us from sin.

Once you have invited Jesus into your life, repentance and transformation need to begin. All of the expectations that you had for your life need to be surrendered to Him and He will make the way for your life. Your vision in the days, months, and years ahead is nothing compared to the knowledge and provision of God. He has your greatest story already written and He will lead the way for your life if you let Him.

One of the most difficult, yet most important, parts of letting God into your life is seeking His perspective on your life. Referencing my psychology and sociology bit at the beginning of this devotional, this could be one of the most daunting and frightening tasks. Putting your pride aside, find yourself an accountability partner to help you overcome addictions and struggles. While you are living your life, always seek God’s counsel and be meaningful in your prayers. He is always watching your thoughts and actions. Knowing that helps keep your focus on God and not on the flesh.

The hardest lesson that I have learned in my walk with God is trusting His timing. In today’s society, instant gratification is the norm and with every other aspect of my life, if I want it, I just go get it. I have learned that with patience and persistence, God provides something so much better. Submit to God’s will and timing in your life and He will be faithful to His Word. 

When you are living your life and have a moment of temptation or need provision on whatever it is you may be struggling with, look beside you. God is always there and yearns for your reliance on Him. He yearns for your heart and soul to be with Him for eternity. He yearns to walk beside you for the rest of the days of your life both here on Earth and in Heaven.

Cleansing the Temple • Devotion #4: Tidying Up

During Passover, many people came to the Temple to celebrate God and offer livestock as burnt offerings as a way to ask for forgiveness of sins. Some of the Temple officials saw this as a business opportunity and began selling animals among other things to make a profit. Essentially, the Temple became more like a flea market instead of a house of God.

Jesus also celebrated the Passover and when He and His disciples came to the Temple and saw that it had turned into a marketplace instead of a house of worship, He became very angry. He decided to put an end to it. Matthew 21:12 says, “And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.” He came into the Temple and began releasing animals, flipping tables, and kicking over benches. The money-changers (currency exchangers) and merchants were furious and asked Jesus who gave Him the right to do this? Jesus told them to get out and not to turn His Father’s house into a den of thieves. Matthew 21:13 says, “He said to them, ‘It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.’” He knew that these merchants and money-changers had weak hearts and did not serve God. As God cleaned the Temple, many of the sick and lame came to Jesus and He healed them in the sight of the priests and scribes. The priests and scribes were both jealous and mad because He did not fear them. God continued to do His work.

Sometimes in our lives, we do not even mean to find ourselves wrapped up in a situation that is not pleasing to God. We get so caught up in what we think we are doing is right but when we take a step back and prayerfully ask what God’s will is, we are taken back a step to realize it is not what God desires. This could be self-righteous planning, unethical business practices, or subtle idolatry. I like to think of our soul as our “Temple.” Our soul displays everything that we are and what we represent. If we continually yearn for what God wants for our soul, then we can most certainly depend on God to keep our souls clean and always advocate for Him in our everyday lives. On the contrary, if we keep our souls unchecked, we risk damage to not only ourselves and our eternity, but also to all of the souls we come into contact with.

Please challenge yourself to search your soul for your true self, and then ask God if that is what He wants for you. We all struggle with something at any given moment and our soul reflects that in some way or another whether it is fear, anxiety, greed, or something else. Allow God to work and cleanse your soul like He cleansed the Temple and make it nothing but a house of worship for God.

1 v 1 • Devotional #5: “God and Yourself “

For those of you that know me, you know that I have been blessed to be a musician. I remember when I was in 2nd grade, Mr. Duvall had a piano in his classroom, and one day during our “free time,” I walked over and began playing. To me, I was just practicing and having a good time, but to my teacher and my fellow classmates, they seemed amazed that someone knew how to play piano at such a young age. I was filled with euphoria after receiving so much praise and acknowledgment. That was when I realized that I was going to have a lifelong struggle with pride. 

One of the greatest desires of humankind is to be accepted by others. We long for connection and relationships and we were designed this way by God. Some will go out of their way to get attention from others. We all know someone that tries to “one-up” you after you tell a story and it is simply to receive praise and acceptance from you. It takes a lot of discipline and multiple moments of self-evaluation to keep yourself in check trying to be prideful of what you have done and achieved. 

Pride can also set in when you are working for the Lord. Whether you are a volunteer, part of the staff, or one of the board members of the church, it is easy to get caught up in the accomplishments of the church. Whether it is putting together an awesome program, building a stellar backdrop, or playing an amazing set for worship, it is easy to pat yourself on the back. 

In Matthew chapter 6, there are some guidelines given to help guide God’s people in the way they conduct themselves in their worship to the Lord. Matthew 6:3-4 says, “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” God wants you to give to the cause with no intention of receiving praise for your generosity from others. Matthew 6:6 adds, “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.” As I have studied this chapter, it seems that if you want to further His Kingdom in a healthy manner, you must do it with the mindset that you are only doing so in the eyes of God and no one else. Matthew 6:17-18 says, “But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Do not tell or boast of your fasting habits. God will not reward your efforts of fasting if you do so in a sinful manner. 

I interpret these guidelines in a very simple way that has helped me overcome some of the most difficult struggles of pride in my life. When you are trying to worship and praise God in your walk of faith, do so in the mindset that it is just God and yourself in the room. When we worship, we sing and play to an audience of One. When we give our tithes and offerings, we give to the one true God. When we fast, it is to remind us how faithful God is in our lives and that we need to display true humility in the eyes of our Father alone. I encourage you all to do a self-evaluation and to make sure the way that you worship God is done in a healthy manner and that it is done in a “God and Yourself” way.

Poor in Spirit • Devotion #6: Humble Spirit

Being a worship leader is an honor and a blessing that I have been granted the opportunity to hold. Being a good leader comes with many responsibilities not only for the leader but for who the leader shepherds. It is human nature to struggle with wanting to be recognized for our personal efforts. Just about every musician you know has struggled with pride and self-satisfaction. I know this all too well and it is a constant battle with the devil. It is also a responsibility of mine to make sure that anyone with whom I do ministry, be it in worship or not, has the genuine heart of worship towards Christ that is pleasing to Him. Constant self-assessment is pivotal to be successful in a healthy ministry.

When the Bible forces extreme self-evaluation after you are caught in habitual sin, are you upset because you get caught or upset because you can do better? Matthew 5:3 says,Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” I first thought to myself, “Why would the poor in spirit inherit the Kingdom of Heaven?” I researched what some other scholars had thought of this Scripture and came across a great interpretation. The late Billy Graham said to substitute the word “poor” for the word “humble.” As soon as you make that click in your head, it is easy to understand that being humble in all aspects of your walk with Christ is imperative for your reward that is Heaven. Whether it be an event plan in ministry or leading someone to Christ, you must always know that God did the work, He made the way for success, and that He must be given all the glory no matter what. We must not be self-satisfied or proud of ourselves in the ministry that we do. James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Be sure to check yourself regularly in your walk to make sure the devil is not creeping in with pride and self-righteousness.

Think of the moments in your life that make you feel the most guilty. Why? Is there something that you should have done differently or something that could have gone way worse? I will be the first to admit that I have sinned my fair share and then some in my lifetime. However, what I do know is that because of God’s grace and mercy, I am still alive and doing ministry. What is even more important than doing ministry is the heart that is behind it. Are you keeping a steadfast mindset that God is proud of while you are doing it? What can you do to continuously check yourself to make sure you are genuinely poor in spirit?

Lesson Fifteen • Devotion #2: What Do You See?

I feel Satan is becoming more prevalent in today’s society. Satan has been using media, money, fear, and idolatry to creep into the souls of people changing their morals and inherently, making people question their existence altogether. Satan has been at work tempting people to sin and it has been devastating. One of the more common sins of the world is idolizing something other than God.  

In 2 Corinthians 10:7, we read, “Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ’s, let him remind himself that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we.” Breaking this down by sentence, the first statement is questioning, “What is before your eyes?” I know that I am not the only one who scrolls Facebook and finds himself watching dessert recipes or cats getting scared by cucumbers. I know that I am not alone when I fear a virus or wish to be wealthy beyond my means. Also, I certainly know that some people turn on the TV and wish to be famous and live a ritzy lifestyle. To be real, there are very real struggles and addictions to pornography. To be quite honest and frank, this is all garbage that can fill our hearts and minds. It teaches us to idolize those that are not God and it makes us blind to all of the blessings that the Lord has given us. It destroys marriages and splits families.  

The second sentence states that if you are confident that you are a believer, then remind yourself constantly that you are so. To make it easier on yourself, if you put yourself in God’s Word more often than you fill your eyes with other distractions, not only will you fix your eyes on God and receive the Living Word, you will also be constantly reminded of God’s love for you. It has the power to transform you in a way that transcends all understanding. He can break addictions and strongholds that weigh you down. He forgives and loves and takes away your sin so you can have everlasting life.  

Challenging yourself to be better is always a great idea. Challenging yourself to follow what God wants for you in your life is the greatest way you can honor His leadership. Challenge yourself to take away the distractions. Set a time to fast from technology. Shut off the computer, turn your phone off for the day, and find yourself in the Word. Idolize God for He is your creator. Find yourself learning and listening to what God has to speak into your life. Find yourself taking a step further in your walk with God. 



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