Daily Devotion

Day 11

August 17

Matthew Wilson

1 Corinthians 12:27-28 NIV

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 

Wow, what a body! Paul was very extensive in his list of roles in the body of Christ that work together to make a body work. There were some easily identified ones such as teachers and prophets. But there were also some lesser recognized ones such as helping and guidance. When I think on Ephesians 4:15-16, verse 16 calls out the importance of the supporting ligaments of the body. This connective tissue is so crucial, and I look at helping and guidance as a major part of this “tissue”. The enemy however tries to make us believe that many of us don’t fall in this category, instead thinking we are just bystanders. 

It is more obvious when one has been placed in the church as a prophet or apostle or teacher and thus harder to deny. But being a helper or healer or guide is not as obvious. It is easy for one to dimmish their place in the body when they do “simple tasks” or have a “small” area of service. But Paul is very clear that you are a part of the body of Christ and that God has placed you there. And it is in these areas that connect us like ligaments. Therefore, the body is no longer a group of organs that are thrown together but now one organism.

When we acknowledge and accept our roles, there is no denying the supernatural impact that we have. It is part of what made the church of Acts grow so quickly. It might be what drew you to Christ the King. When we realize our position, it naturally gravitates us to community with one another. That strengthens and grows us. And with that maturity, we go out into the world and make more disciples.

Regardless of whether you perceive your placement in the body of Christ as big or small, you are a vital part of this organism. It is now, more than ever, that we must step up to the calling that God has placed on us to keep us connected as one to achieve our commission. 

Prayer: Oh Lord, my God. Give me less of me and more of you. Show me where I belong in your church. Make my gifts known. Help me not to measure worth with my human eyes, but with your heavenly ruler. Remind me that you know what is best. Lord, connect this church with your all powerful and gentle arms. Let the world see what true connection and community look like and desire to be a part.

Amen.

Day 10

August 16

Devon Ragoonath 

Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

To spur one another means to encourage each other. Has someone ever needed your shoulder to cry on? Or maybe needed a word of encouragement before a big test, project, meeting or just for life in general? Perhaps someone needed a helping hand to move furniture or couldn’t afford to get their groceries. No matter how big or small the gesture or deed is, we must always encourage each other and care for one another. 

Sometimes it can be tempting to turn down meeting with a friend or a family member. It always seems like someone wants to get coffee or lunch when the time just isn’t right for you. Life is too busy at the moment or work is bogging you down, but we should always consider gathering with each other when the opportunity arises. God works through us each and every day in many unique ways transforming and changing us and we should be sure to encourage and gather with one another through it all. 

As we continue on each day approaching the day that Jesus returns, negativity and evilness becomes more subtle day in and day out. It becomes more and more difficult every day to decipher what is good and what is bad, or to see what is truth and what is not or what is right and what is wrong. False concepts and deceitful lies that deny the powerful Word of God is present within our society more now than ever. We need to gather together and be with each other throughout these times and share the Good News with each other and share the love that Jesus has for us. We should love one another like Jesus loves us. There is no greater love than the love that God has for us and we must always spur one another toward love and good deeds and never miss the opportunities that allow us to gather with each other and care for one another. 

Prayer: Father, thank you for the opportunity we receive every day to encourage others through love and good deeds. Help me to not neglect meeting together with other believers and paying attention to the fact that the Day is drawing near. We pray that we can be accountable with each other and that we can continue to love one another like you love us God.

In your precious Sons name, Amen.

Day 9

August 15

Michelle Yorick 

Colossians 3:12-13 NIV

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

These past two years of pandemic, quarantine, and “stay-at-home” orders didn’t do much in the area of connection for this world. It seems we as a people have forgotten how to connect with others. We spent so much time behind computer screens and closed doors, that now while we are “allowed” to go out and interact with others…it seems like a foreign and unknown thing to us. 

Just this past weekend, there was a speaker coming to our area and I really wanted to go and hear her speak. I bought the tickets, invited some friends, scheduled it on my calendar…but then the day came and I almost felt anxiety about being in community with hundreds of people I didn’t know. I felt overwhelmed. I felt worried. It was the oddest thing, especially since people describe me as the most extroverted extrovert they have ever met! It was a strange feeling for me. I wasn’t quite sure how to process how I was feeling. All I did know was that I NEEDED TO GO! Every fiber of my being told me, don’t back out!

In those moments, I remembered the scripture I had been given for 21 Days of Prayer…so I reflected on Colossians 3:12-13 a bit that day and remembered…I am chosen and loved by God, He has a purpose for me. He gives me everything I need to encounter His people with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. He reminded me through these verses that being in community with people isn’t hard and it isn’t a lost art. It is a calling on each of us. 

He reminded me that connecting with people and displaying His characteristics is how I can share Him with others. And to do that, I have to get out there and connect! 

So, I did. I sucked it up. And I am so glad I did. The speaker was amazing. I learned a lot from her in her 45 minute talk. I met new friends. I bumped into old friends I hadn’t seen in over a decade. Had a wonderful time of connecting with my husband and friends. It was amazing. And all the while, I had this message on my heart…wear (clothe myself) in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. And forgive others as I have already been forgiven. 

I’m excited that the world is coming out from behind the closed doors and screens. I am excited for face-to-face connections with people as God designed it. I am excited for the growth and knowledge we experience through connection with people and connection with Jesus. We just need to remember to dress ourselves daily as He does…with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience…OH, and don’t forget forgiveness!

So get out there today and every day and connect!

Prayer: Gracious Heavenly Father, I thank you for your gift of connection. I thank you for the people you will bring into our paths each day and I thank you for loving us so much that you trust us to treat your children with these characteristics. Please guide us in our encounters. Guide our words and our actions so that the people we come across see more of you and less of us. We love you and we praise you. 

Amen.

Day 8

August 14

Pat Odom

I Corinthians 12:18-20 NIV

But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

Chapter12 of I Corinthians talks about how the body of Christ is one body. As members of this body, we have all been given different gifts to use within the body. But it takes all of us to come together with one mind, one body, and with one soul, with likeminded minds of Christ to build the kingdom. With this being said, I have the gift of interceding for the church, of serving, greeting and praying for the church. Others will have different gifts, but we are all important to the body. God wants his people to understand the importance of becoming one body with different members and giftedness in this body. We are not to think of ourselves more highly than others. It’s his grace given to each one of us.

However, I am reminded by God that he gave us these different gifts so that He would be glorified by using these gifts within the body. I am grateful that he chose me to be a part of his body. I want to be pleasing to my father.

He created each one of us with a plan and only God knows the plan he has for us! Obey the word of God and know that we are all needed in the body of Christ. It’s for his glory. Amen 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I am asking you to help us see that you love us, and we are all one in your eyes. You have given all of us different gifts and these gifts belong to you. Forgive us if we thought it was about us only. Help us to unite with one another and to have a mind of Christ so that we can build this kingdom together. May we decrease so that you can increase in us.

In Jesus name, Amen.  

Day 7

August 13

JP Durham

Romans 12:16 NIV

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Romans 12:16 is a really good verse when we address the idea of connection. This verse very bluntly and simply addresses us on how we should be with others in our community. God tells us not to look down on any of his children because of how they are. He tells us to not have pride in our hearts so that we can live, and even learn from those who we may think are of lower social position. We should have respect for everyone. No matter their background, habits, ethnicity, or social status. 

It is so easy, especially now a days, to look at someone and immediately begin to judge and criticize how a person is living. With things like social media that are basically asking for people to have an opinion on another’s life, it really creates a mindset to compare your life with others. To give an example, it’s really easy to pull up to a red light and see a man with a cardboard sign, and say “how pathetic” or “get a job”. I have been guilty of it many times myself. I think this is what God is referring to in this passage. That just because God has blessed us to be more fortunate than someone in that position, that doesn’t mean that we should look down on those who are struggling. We should never consider ourselves “too good” to affiliate with those of lower social standings. God wants us to love all of his children, and to do whatever we can to bring up our brothers and sisters in Christ. Just like the verse says, we need to live in harmony with everyone. We should never have so much pride that we believe we’re too good to have to deal with those in a tough spot. Only God can judge us.

Prayer: Dear God, please help me to find love in my heart so that I may not be so conceited. Humble me so that I may look at others who are in need of you, and know that could just as easily be myself. Help me to lift others up and never tear them down. Bless those who are lost, and help those who are in need of you Lord. Use me to be light for those in the darkness. 

In Jesus name I pray, Amen. 

Day 6

August 12

Damaris Chajon

John 15:5 NIV

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Christ used the figure of the vine to illustrate the necessity of His disciples abiding in Him, and taught that they will bear fruit for Him only as they abide in Him.

What other meanings does the word abide have?…to remain, to dwell, to spend. 

This makes me think about the importance for us to remain and spend time with God and the importance this has, so we can bear fruit. What fruit? Gal. 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. He promises that we will bear much fruit and I love that because, it is not me that needs to work on producing fruit but instead I need to spend time with God, so He will produce fruit on me. And this fruit will be an expression, as a result of my time with Him and will bless others in our community of believers. Others that are not yet part of it, but will be reached because of our testimony. 

I thank God for his reminder on how much I need His presence in my life and especially now throughout these 21 days of prayer and reconnecting. It got easier to stay isolated but I need my brothers and sisters to live in community and definitely I need Him in my life. 

Prayer: Dear God, I come to you asking to put in me the desire to abide in your presence. I ask that through the Holy Spirit, you will move me to want more of you because separated from you, I can do nothing. Help me stay connected through the body (the branches) so I may be supported in those times I feel weak. Also, so I may be there when others need me too.

In Jesus name, Amen!

Day 5

August 11

Dan Houston

Mark 12:28-31 NIV

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”  “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Several years ago, I was sitting at a Panther’s football game. I knew the person right beside me, but everyone else around me were total strangers. They were people from all walks of life. It was an exciting game where the Panthers trailed early but made an exciting comeback for the win.

One of the things I remember most fondly about this day was how, as the home team started their successful comeback, we all became instant friends. We were high-fiving each other after catches, hugging one another after touchdowns, and as one big happy family, celebrating when the game ended in victory. We were many but we were one! And our common denominator, the attraction that brought us all together and the bond that kept us that way, was the football team. For a few minutes that afternoon, we were all connected!

In our scripture lesson for today Jesus not only simplifies God’s Law, but He does so in a specific order. First, love the Lord. Second, love your neighbor. Jesus was intentional in the order of these commands.  

If we love God first, above all things, then He will be the common denominator for our relationships with others. This relationship with our Father (up) should bring us together with all people (out), and keep us together. Because we love Him, then it should follow that we love our neighbors (all people) as ourselves.

When we commit to love God with all our heart, we see everyone else in a new light. We no longer see others as various skin colors or different socio-economic classes, but we see all as children of God, our brothers and sisters, all made and loved equally by the same Creator.

If we can rally together as one around a football team, think of the powerful connection we can have when we acknowledge God as the Father of us all. That is a game changer that makes us all winners!

Prayer:  Father God, You bless us in so many ways and we thank You for that. You have given each of us the blessing of being one of Your children. Lord, help us to acknowledge and celebrate that connection each day by loving You, and everyone-everyone!-as we love ourselves. We pray this in the name of Your beloved Son Jesus.  Amen.

Day 4

August 10

Charlotte Harris

James 5:16 NIV

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

We see throughout the bible that every human sins. Romans 3:23 says it plainly: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. So, knowing that we all sin, we can apply James 5:16 directly to our lives. This verse gives simple instructions on confession and prayer, thus resulting in healing.

First, it says that we are to confess our sins to each other. Confessing to others is easier said than done. But why? Why is confessing our sins so hard? I believe it is this: part shame, part pride. The shame is the embarrassment, the self-centeredness, the “what would they think of me if they knew how sinful my heart is?”, the mortifying feeling that we want to avoid when confessing our sin. Then we have pride. Pride is viewed as a rebellion against God. It presumes that we have the excellence and glory that only God Himself possesses. Many times, I have allowed shame and pride get in the way of confession. I have found that prayer beforehand for the Spirit to move in my heart and allow me the courage to do what the Lord has called me to do has been very helpful.

Then it says to pray for each other. This is a powerful gift. When we pray for another, it draws us closer in relationships, while also drawing us closer to God. This selfless act is something we see Jesus doing time and time again during His life.

We have confessed our sins to one another, we have prayed for each other, and now we are washed clean. Now, we are righteous. We are rid of the barrier of sin that blocks the relationship between us and our Father.

Prayer: Gracious Father, thank you for your Word. Thank you for showing us Your love for us and for others. Thank you for the gift of relationship. We ask that You move in our hearts today. Give us the strength to confess to one another the sin that separates us from you. Give us the encouragement to pray for each other. Draw us closer to each other as we draw closer to you. Lord, we love you and we praise you.

In your Son’s holy name, Amen.

Day 3

August 9

Samuel Ellington

John 4:20-21, 23 NIV

Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem… …a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”

Most people know this story of the Samaritan woman at the well, although few actually know what a Samaritan is. The Samaritans were a group of Israelites that, like the Jews, descended from the Hebrew people. Also, like the Jews, they observed the Law of God that is found in the Torah, the first five books of our Old Testament. In fact, they kept God’s Law so well that the word Samaritan comes from the Hebrew Shamerim, meaning keepers [of the Torah].

At first glance, the Samaritans look pretty much like normal Jews. That’s because they were, except for a few disagreements. The most significant of which was this: the Samaritans maintained that the proper place to worship God was in Shechem, while the Jews believed it was Jerusalem. So, who’s right?

In my interpretation of the Gospel according to John, Jesus maintained that the proper way to worship God isn’t found in any particular location—on any mountain, in any church. Today, as you ponder the importance of connection, consider this message of liberation. Look around, and I guarantee you’ll see plenty of Shechems, plenty of Jerusalems. People today are no less willing to die on their mountains than they were in Jesus’ time. But the “proper” way to worship God isn’t in the lean-to churches of Intibucá or the Catholic monasteries of Tibet. It isn’t at Christ the King or St. Mark’s Episcopal, as a Calvinist or an Arminianist. It is neither by separating ourselves from the world nor insisting that it adopt our own beliefs.

The “proper” way to worship God is to do what Jesus did for the Samaritan at the well (John 4:1-42), for the defendant at the Mount of Olives (John 8:1-11), for the Romans who crucified him (Luke 23:34), and for the disabled man at the pool (John 5:1-13). That is, recognize the humanity of every person you encounter; defend unwaveringly every human’s right to a good life; practice forgiveness and understanding; and do something good before we each must slip away from the crowd.

Prayer: God, I pray that we learn to appreciate the value of each member of the human race. I pray that we arrive at the understanding that to connect with a person is not to change them, but rather to value their identity, to fight for them, to make love something real and practiced. Amen.

Day 2

August 8

Pastor Frank Garcia

Romans 8:26-27 NIV

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people accordance with the will of God. 

The passage describes the works of the Holy Spirit with little to no words in its move to restore the connection with the Father. It is like 3G Network, The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. They work seamlessly throughout each believer. The Main Frame lies in Heaven and intercessor “Jesus” answers to the Father as our High Priest. The only interruption to this constant flow is sin and rejecting HIS existence, power and glory. Again, words are not necessary as God knows our heart; it is susceptible to us. This network is powered on love, worship to Him, prayer, relationship, and wholehearted devotion towards expanding his kingdom. 

Take time to meditate and reflect on this analogy. What does it say to your Heart? Do you believe your prayers easily flow in/out of you? Do barriers currently exist in your prayer life or connection with God? Whom do you plan to call for help? God is already listening. 

Prayer: Dear Lord, Thank You for the Holy Spirit. Please show me ways to improve and increase my prayer life. I wish to grow a stronger relationship with you. It is essential to live and demonstrate a loving life in Christ. The Bible calls you the Great, I AM. The First and Last, Abraham called you the Everlasting! I know I can do all things through you who strengthen me.

Amen.