Devotions

Category Archives: 1V1

Giving • Devotion #1: “Mine”

Currently, as I sit to write this I am seven months pregnant with my third child, during a global pandemic, a recession, in an extremely divided and intense country, and in the presidential election year 2020 (which has been memorable, to say the least). There were rumors of murder hornets a few months ago that thankfully seemed to fizzle out. Everything else has been pretty insane. If there was a time to not be pregnant, this would probably be it. Every day is another reminder that the world has lost its mind and chaos abounds. 

Sometimes when I am overwhelmed and fearful, it seems like the human race is in a runaway train speeding down a hill towards destruction, and we are just getting closer and closer to the crash. In reality, that picture is not far from the truth for those who do not know the Lord. It is a scary and sobering thought. I am so thankful to know that my Savior has lifted me from that train and has me safe in His arms. I hold to this truth and remind myself of it constantly, and probably a little more constantly now in this crazy year with a baby on the way. If you have children, you likely know what I am talking about. It is one thing to worry about yourself, but when you have a child, the love is so unexplainably intense that you (or at least I) worry so much more on their behalf. I think of my kids, and know I would do anything for them. It is both wonderful and horrible at the same time. Nothing has tested my faith more than being a parent, responsible for three precious lives. I just want to wrap them up in a bubble and keep them safely to myself.

Maybe you do not have children, or you do but do not struggle with the related fear as I do. Whether you relate or not, I am sure that there is at least one thing in your life that you possess that you cannot imagine having to let go of or release control. Perhaps it is money, your career or talent, or a relationship with a spouse, friend, or parent. It is something that you feel that you have worked so hard to build up or gain, and losing it would be absolutely detrimental. What is most important to you? 

This year has really challenged me and brought many things in my heart to light that I was not even aware of them existing. Faced with a global health crisis early in the year made me fear for the health and safety of those I love. Faced with the possibility of an extreme recession or depression, I found myself worrying about the possibility of losing our income, house, or whatever. Faced with the election coming up in November, I find myself worrying about what things will look like when it is over, regardless of who wins. I am thankful to the Lord that He quickly squashed the murder hornets because that may have just put me over the edge (insert laugh emoji here). 

Thankfully, through all of this, I know that the Lord is sovereign and in control of it all. If He was not, I would not be able to sleep at night. When I find myself consumed with fear about any of these scenarios, I can easily find comfort in the Word. There are so many amazing passages that I could share but when it comes to this matter, I think it is important to get to the heart of the issue – putting too much value in things that we view as “ours.” My kids are “mine,” my money that I earn from my job is “mine.” The talent that I possess and get to share with others is “mine.” The list could unfortunately continue. When we view everything we have as “ours,” it is pretty easy to get possessive of it and extremely fearful to lose it. However, in reality, none of it is truly ours. Everything we have been given and blessed with is from the Lord. He is the One who created your children and gave them to you! He is the One who gave you your gifts and abilities! He is the One who lined up your career and has provided for you financially. 

One passage in Scripture that always helps remind me of this is 1 Chronicles chapter 29. In this chapter, we find King David setting aside his gold, silver, jewels, and every precious thing so that his son could build a temple for the Lord and all of His glory. I think in today’s value it was something like 35 million dollars. Can you imagine? That is a ton of money. However, David cheerfully gave and encouraged his people to give regardless of the cost. In verse 14 (NLT), he says, “But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us!” David understood that every single thing that he possessed was given to him by God, and because of that, it should be our joy and privilege to give back to Him. When I remind myself of this truth, I can let go of any fear that I may have because I know that the Lord is not only in control, but He loves me and has an amazing plan for my life. It is up to me to give up any idea of control that I might have and to trust Him. His ways are better than mine. He loves my kids even more than I do. He has a plan for my kids, my talents, abilities, finances, and relationships. The Lord has given us so much. It is now our turn to joyfully give back to Him and watch Him use it for incredible things!

Correction • Devotion #6: Unity

Raise your hand if you are a rule follower? I wish we could add emojis in our devotions because I would definitely use the girl with her hand raised emoji. I follow the rules for a variety of reasons, but a huge factor is I do not like being reprimanded, the conflict is soul-crushing. What is both horrifying and amazing is that God gives us a blueprint on how to handle conflict. I say horrifying because we have to learn how to have conflict, but amazing because God teaches us what healthy conflict looks like and it takes something dark and uncomfortable and creates something beautiful and strong.

As I was writing this devotion, I had a conversation with one of my best friends about how thankful we were that our friendship was unafraid of truth, true refining through honest and loving conflict. It made me think about the closest friendships I have in my life and how each one has had a form of truth, conflict, and some pretty difficult and awkward conversations. The conflict has produced strong, biblical, and lovely friendships in my life, which seems a bit backward. So why does conflict produce strong friendships?  

Matthew 18:19-20 says, “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” As I was reading Matthew chapter 18, it dawned on me that these verses, which are usually reserved for describing the Church are more about Jesus right in the middle of the pursuit of unity. God knows that conflict is difficult, but we cannot shy away from it. Instead, be comforted with His presence during our conflict. This is not to say that conflict and reconciliation always turn out stronger relationships. I also have former friendships that did not survive the conflict and attempt at reconciliation. Does this stop me from pursuing healthy relationships? No, but what it does show me is that when it is healthy and right, God is there pushing for unity in our relationships and even in a larger view, the Church. Unity is a precious gift from God, one not to be squandered by hurt feelings or unsaid conflict but pursued in the presence of God. Let that be our prayer and pursuit, unity in our relationships, and in the body of Christ. Oh, how we need unity in our world today, because that is where we find Jesus among us.

Correction • Devotion #5: Let Go and Let God

I grew up in a small town in northern Michigan with a population of less than 5,000.  I was raised in a Catholic environment, but I never really knew the Lord and what it meant to live for Him. I also attended the public school system from day one which even in a small town, had a large demographic of students of different backgrounds. While in class, it was relatively easy to pick out the troublemakers in the class. They were the ones that were sent to the office regularly, parent phone calls to their home, detentions, and suspensions.  Do not get me wrong, I have fulfilled my fair share of detentions and corrective disciplines, but once I had learned my lessons, I rarely found myself in that behavior again.  

Fast forward ten years and I am in high school when peer pressure and social status are important. The same kids that were troublemakers in elementary school just happen to be the same troublemakers in high school and the choices they have made are rubbing off on others. Instead of causing trouble in class, now they are trying alcohol and drugs. Unfortunately, it is disobeying the ones that love you most and neglecting the real friends you once had. It really was a blessing that I never found myself in that crowd, but to see the same story in a biblical manner, magnified the blessing that much more. 

In the book of Titus, the Apostle Paul is giving us a guideline on how to treat people. He says to be trustworthy, kind, and speak evil of no one. He also noted that we were once foolish, disobedient, and unworthy sinners until the grace and mercy of God saved our souls. One of the hardest parts of this chapter is the moment where we are told to give up our pursuit of someone’s faith. Titus 3:10 says, “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him.” For me, there were only a few friends of mine that fell into the dark and would not stop trying to illicit me into the same sin. It was hard for me to do, but I had to let go and let God. I did not entirely give up on my pursuit of these old friendships. Luckily, we have the privilege to pray and talk to God about these souls and pray that He does a work in their life that we are incapable of doing.  I am a firm believer that you are who you surround yourself with. If you surround yourself with sin, you will sin. If you surround yourself with people who encourage and lift you up, you will be encouraged to be the best version of yourself and the person that God wants you to be. I encourage you all to take a look at your closest friends and family and see what they are pouring into your life. Make a concise decision on whether to pursue their walk with Christ or to pray for them and to let go and let God. 

Correction • Devotion #4: I am Not your Enemy

“If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15

In his second letter to the Church at Thessalonica, Paul writes what seems to be a very severe and harsh warning. What was the reason for this warning? Was it false worship, immorality, sexual sin, or murder? Those are all terrible, but that is not what Paul is seeking to correct in this church. In verse six, Paul says, “keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness.” Why warn against idleness? The foundation of many sins is a mindset of idleness. 

In the Church at Thessalonica, there was a growing group of people that had refused to do any work contributing to the community. They had refused to learn a trade and work while living off the contributions of the rest of the community. Their mindset was looking for the return of Jesus sensing work as a waste of time. It was a mindset that was contradicting the teachings of Jesus, as well as what Paul had taught and modeled for these young believers. Thus there was the need for correction. 

When discipline is needed with a child, a parent must use the filter, “Does the punishment fit the crime?” In this case, if we focused on the degree of the discipline (“have nothing to do with him”), we could miss an important teaching. This group of people are fellow Christians and we must be willing as well as open to correction from our fellow Christians. Paul’s instructions were not for the purpose of shaming, but for change.In Paul’s previous letter to the Thessalonians, he concludes it, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). At the core of our relationships within the church, we are to love and encourage one another which should also be at the core of our correction. Keep in mind if we receive a form of correction from a brother that it comes from a place of love for you. In the same way, if you are sending correction it should come from a place of building them up, not shaming them. The purpose is not to be right, it is to be encouraging. They are not the enemy.

Correction • Devotion #3: Bring Your Brother Back

James 5:19-20 says, “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” When we are adopted into God’s church, through faith in the blood of Christ, we all become children of God. This passage of Scripture is such a beautiful example of how we are supposed to watch out for our brothers and sisters in Christ. There are a couple of things in this verse, and the verses prior to this, that show us how we are to be on the watch for the family of God.

First, it may sound simple, but we are to be on the watch for our brothers and sisters in Christ. In order to be able to see someone wandering from the truth, we need to be watching and caring for them. This does not mean that you look on their life with judgment waiting for them to slip as a little brother might do to his older brother. For example, when I was younger, I would watch my older brother and wait for him to do something wrong so that I could say, “Ha! You messed up and now I am going to tell mom.” This is not the type of watching we are to do. Rather we are to make sure that the evilness of this world, those preaching false doctrines, and the sinful nature that is in all of us does not overcome those who say they are in Christ. When we are watching our brothers’ lives with a caring and loving heart and we see them wander from the truth that is found in Christ, we are to stop them and bring them back. If we truly are found in Christ and we truly love others as Christ loves us, we will never allow them to wander away from the truth and into darkness. Secondly, prayer is essential for the correction of those found in Christ. A couple of verses earlier in James 5:16, it says, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” Not only are we to be on the watch for our brothers and sisters and confront them lovingly when they wander from the truth, but we are to pray for them fervently when they do so. James discusses Elijah when talking about the power of prayer and how he fervently prayed for the rain to stop and it did. That is how we are to pray when we see followers of Christ struggling and moving away from His truth. That is how we strengthen the body of Christ and build up the church, by watching out for our brothers with a loving heart, and fervently praying for them all the time.



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