Daily Devotion

SEPT 12 & 13 – Love of a neighbor

Mark 12:29-31 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

As this verse in Mark states so clearly this is God’s GREATEST commandment. We can’t call ourselves Christians without loving God and loving people. I think often of how intentional Jesus was to hang out with those people that were NOT like him. He didn’t just gravitate to his friend’s or his families’ homes. I am so guilty of just “hitting the easy button” and hanging out with those that are like me – Christian moms, the same socioeconomic group, and those that basically line up with my belief system. It naturally takes more energy to do what Jesus calls us to do – love others – that means everyone!!!! 

For me, the struggle is to be vulnerable with others so that they see that God is the one that I lean on for my identity and guidance. I get those walls up with “it’s fine” and find it very hard to open up to others. But I have been so profoundly changed by other people’s honesty and struggles and how they have overcome them by leaning on God. So, I try now to very intentionally meet people where they are. I dare say not one of us hasn’t been hurt, betrayed, or just struggled with daily life at one time or another. But we tend to hide those struggles and act like we have it all together when I hear God saying, “be honest and more open so others can learn from your struggles.”

I strive for the “. . . all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” and to turn from the worldliness that trips me up constantly!! Jesus took it ALL for us on the cross, He is enough, and we want to show that to others. Literally being His hands and feet to everyone we meet, co-laboring with Jesus day in and day out.  

Prayer:

Lord, may we all put this command at the forefront of all that we do. May it truly be our motivation throughout our days, to shine Your light into people’s lives. Thank you so much for what Jesus did for us on the cross! Show us how to love you and to love people well, in your precious son’s name.

Amen.

Day 21

Day 21 – August 28, 2021 – Mara Burgos 

Psalm 34:8 

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the person who takes refuge in Him! 

To taste involves testing or sampling; to see involves understanding or perceiving. The phrase taste and see, then, means “try and experience.” This passage urges us to discover the goodness of the Lord by personal trial and experience.

Contentment means to be satisfied or pleased; this verse encourages us to taste and see, creating a spiritual experience that bring us to a deeper understanding and a more intimate relationship with God.  David desires others to “taste and see.” He wants them to experience what he has experienced so that they can know what he has come to know, the soul-sustaining goodness of the Lord.

This verse goes on to outline examples of God’s incredible goodness to those who take refuge in Him by covering them with blessings. 

There have been many times where I have been waiting for an answer, and those times of uncertainty and anxiety can take a toll on my mental and spiritual well- being. That is why this verse is such a powerful reminder, it’s a call for us to trust in the Lord, to taste of His faithfulness, and to see that the Lord is good, gracious and our shelter. 


Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you for Your Word and the wisdom that it contains. Thank you that I have tasted of Your saving grace and am eternally blessed, by trusting in You Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I have seen the beautiful and mighty work of Your hands and know that You are good. God, I trust You in this situation and in the ones to come, whether good or bad, I turn to You. And if I allow fear, discouragement, or other feelings to lead me astray, remind me of Your goodness, for You alone are my only true refuge. Lord, thank You for blessing me even though I don’t deserve it, but You are so good. The victory is Yours. Thank you, my loving Father. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Day 20

Day 20 – August 27, 2021 – Holly Armstrong 

Philippians 4:12-13 

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Are you suffering today? Hurting? Facing an uncontrollable circumstance? And, is bitterness, unforgiveness, and/or anger trying to creep into your heart?  

When life is tough, and we have no control over what is happening, worldly emotions tend to take over. However, Paul discovered a secret to finding contentment in life’s hardest situations. Though imprisoned, Paul wanted to encourage others to look to Christ who freely offers the strength to face anything.

My first encounter with the book of Philippians happened a few months after I began following Christ. My husband and I had tried for over a year to get pregnant, and we had finally been blessed. However, our joy was turned to utter broken-heartedness one week in September when my best friend was brutally murdered and I also miscarried our baby. 

In our despair, we did the only thing we knew to do; we turned to Jesus, and he carried us through our pain. 

How does one find contentment when innocent life is ripped from this world? Let’s be honest, without Christ, it is impossible. (John 15:5) But with Christ……all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)

Personally, I found meditating on Philippians 4 the only feasible solution to my gut-wrenching pain. I didn’t want bitterness, unforgiveness or anger to take root. It couldn’t change my situation, and it certainly wouldn’t bring back my loved ones. 

Thankfully, we were surrounded by spiritual mentors, like Paul was to the people of Philippi, who encouraged us to discover contentment through Christ. And, it worked. When we sat in the courtroom listening to a murderer’s sentencing, we found forgiveness. When we heard our friends announcing their pregnancies while our arms remained empty, we discovered peace.

Friend, today you CAN make it. Life might be hard; you may be suffering more than you can handle, but it is never more than Christ can handle! Hand Him your pain and He will pour on you everything you need to make it through each day. Find satisfaction in Him alone because it truly is the only way to live a life of contentment.

Dear Jesus, I pray for everyone who is hurting today, for anyone who feels overcome with emotion, for anyone who is finding it difficult to be content. Grant them your peace and carry them through life’s most challenging moments.  Surround them with mentors who will guide them to you, and may they be content just being in your presence, knowing that you will never leave them alone with their pain. Thank you for all you have given us. We love you. Amen.

Day 19

Day 19 August 26th, 2021 – Reid Cook

Romans 14:17-29 

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

Contentment is often hard to find in the world today and impossible without God. Years ago, someone told me something that has always stuck with me. God is always on time. He’s not early or late but always on time when we need it most. How blessed are we to be loved so tenderly? With Romans 14: 17-19, it’s important to note that there was a time when food was regularly offered to Roman gods and sacrifices made to pagan idols, Paul knew that believers, who had engaged in these ungodly practices before their salvation, were often repulsed by the thought of eating food that had been sacrificed to these false gods, while other Christians understood that it is not eating the food that defiles a man, but his attitude of heart. This is what Romans 14: 17 means when it says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Righteousness, peace and inner joy is given to those of us that submit to God’s leadership and guidance. Romans 14: 18-19 goes on to say “Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So, let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” To me this means that we must walk in the contentment God provides, in faith and in love, with our neighbors in their journey. Let us honor each other’s journey and build up one another in godly grace. Let us chase after peace in our relationships, homes and in our community and be still in listening to and following our Father’s guidance. 

Father, I pray for your wisdom and guidance in our relationships, our homes and our community.  I pray that You give us the hearts to love ourselves and others like You love us, Lord. Give us the eyes to see others like You see us Lord and the ears to listen so we can better serve You. Thank you for who You are and for creating us in Your image. We know that You are always on time. Give us peace in knowing that. We love You, Lord. Amen.

Day 18

Day-18   August 25th, 2021 – Kai Hollingsworth 

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

In this passage Jesus is saying that if you’re looking for virtue, you will be content if you find it with Him, and only Him. Anything else won’t be satisfactory, no matter what it is.  It’s a tough pill to swallow, hard to admit that you’re not content with life. We go around thinking that we are fine, hiding our true desires.

Often times it’s hard to come to God for satisfaction, I find myself going outside of Him for answers and fulfillments. Whether it be advice from friends, goofing off on my phone, or other worldly things. None of which are inherently bad, to a point (the phone mostly).  Sometimes you’re not content with what you have. Even though there’s a lot to be grateful for, it feels as though it isn’t enough. It’s not like you want more but what you currently have isn’t fulfilling you. 

So, to be content you might want to take a step back and ask yourself, why am I not content? If you can’t find the answer, then you’re probably coming at it from the wrong angle. Your “hunger” shouldn’t make you focus on what you don’t have; instead, it should drive you to want to become closer to God. To have that fulfillment in your relationship with Him, because He is all that is righteous and whole.  What else could satisfy you? 

Everyone’s journey to find contentment will be different, it might take a while to get to that point, and it’s not an easy path. God won’t judge you for taking time.  Remember you’re not the only one who is trying to get there. The righteous satisfaction will be between you and God alone and once you find that contentment, it will feel wonderful. So don’t be afraid of straying away, God will always guide you back to him.

God thank you for giving me the realization that I needed, I pray that you continue to fill my life, and that I may be content in everything you do. Thank you for your guidance and grace, amen. 

Day 17

Day 17  August 24, 2021 – Lisa McClure 

Ecclesiastes 3:11-13

He has made everything beautiful in its time.  Also, He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.  I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also, that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil – this is God’s gift to man.

(NIV)  He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.  That each of them may eat and drink and find satisfaction in all their toil – this is the gift of God.

I believe God delights in taking His time with us and isn’t that encouraging!  So much is done today in a rush and taking one’s time is a gift. We are given time to become, to be molded by our beautiful God, the Potter molding the clay. It makes me realize how much time I don’t give to God or Jesus. Yet, in His Grace, He gives me time to learn and know this:  He is willing to give me as much time as is needed to grow. He allows time as He forms flowers in the spring, as oak trees grow from acorns, as seeds grow into something solid and strong.

The earth is content to let Him create it’s beauty. And if you make it a point each day to notice it, you’ll sense that He has in fact set eternity in our hearts. Why else are you drawn back to that mountain stream or that ocean roar, or that river wild??  It’s something I find hard to describe, and there is a reason I want to return to those places of God’s creative and wild beauty… because it is eternity beckoning. We see the promise of renewal and the promise of finding Him in our everyday work-a-day lives.  He always has gifts to give!

For instance, something that only He knows makes you laugh and it will often catch you off guard. It may be a rough day you’re having but someone or something catches your heart and makes you stop and laugh. Guess what…its Jesus knowing what you need!

So, when we draw near to our God, let’s ask for those good gifts and that good contentment that comes from only Him. He knows what our hearts need and He will always give us His best. We can surely trust that.  He has made everything beautiful in its time and that especially means you!

Father, You are amazing and good beyond words. Help us express our contentment and joy in You in ways that touch others’ lives.  Jesus, how can we thank You for a love that would die for us, that would make it possible to be in the presence of a Holy God. We can love the way You loved. We can take our time and simply drink in the gifts you give each day, and we can share! We can realize this life doesn’t have to be perfect or polished and as a result, live in a contentment born of a heart grateful to You. Thank You for teaching us these things.

Jesus, it is in Your beautiful and powerful name we pray,

Amen.  

Day 16

Day 16 – August 23, 2021 – Erin Thompson

Psalm 18:1-3 

I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.

Strength: the quality or state of being physically strong, the capacity of an object or substance to withstand great force or pressure.

In life we can start to rely on our “own” strength, and we often forget where that strength comes from. We tend to be reminded of where our real strength comes from when we are facing hardship. This passage talks about how God has equipped us with His strength to be saved from our enemies. What greater way to be at peace than to be reminded that God is our stronghold? If you read further in this passage, you can get a glimpse of the power of God. He moves Heaven and Earth to save His children! Personally, I believed that I could be my own stronghold, that I could do it on my own. I stretched myself thin, I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders, I crumbled. Like David in this passage, I cried out. To be able to feel the strength of God fighting for me was the best sense of peace one could ever experience. I felt whole, I felt new and I felt loved. To experience the protection of God doesn’t take some great show, all you have to do is call out to Him. Whether you do that with tears streaming down your face on your knees in your college dorm room in the midst of one of your many breakdowns, through worship, or just merely asking. It doesn’t matter how you do it. Just do it. If He brings you to the struggles, He will bring you through them. You can save yourself a lot of hardships if you recognize how you are able to face life, not because of anything you can do, but what God has given you the ability to do. In this passage, God tells us He is our fortress, He delivers you, He is our rock, our shield, He is the horn of our salvation, and our stronghold. He promises us these things, not because of how loud we sing in worship, or how often we pray, or our ability quote scripture. We are promised those things because we are children of God, it is our birthright when we confess our sins and are born again through Him. Rest easy that our God has almighty strength.

Prayer:

Dear Lord, I thank you for the contentment that your strength has given me. I pray for those that are still relying on themselves and struggling. I pray that you cover them in your salvation. I lift up my family, our congregation, our community, and our country. I pray that you continue to give us your strength and protection as we continue to face hardships. In your name we pray, Amen.

Day 15

Day 15 – August 22nd, 2021 – Birgitta Kruzan

Luke 6:20-21

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

After reading this scripture passage, I thought about the Onobasulu people, a small group living off the land in a remote jungle area in Papua New Guinea. I lived with them a while back and many of the people didn’t have money for school or medical care. Malnutrition affected most of the population. In my time with them, I attended many funerals for people who died before they even turned sixty years old. Funerals were accompanied by loud wailing. In fact, babies were not usually given a name for three months after they were born, because so many died before their first year.

Despite all their suffering, I witnessed their trust and reliance on the Lord. I experienced with them a revival in which there was much rejoicing and reconciliation with enemies. Somehow their vegetable gardens fed not only their families but all the guests who came from other areas as well. 

In many societies around the world, wealth, abundance and putting on a good face, will generate power and influence. In this scripture passage, God encourages downtrodden and forgotten people with hope, satisfaction, and joy. Here God illustrates that in His Kingdom the power dynamic is turned upside down. 

Some people believe these verses mean physical needs and sorrows will transfer into spiritual needs, and that one’s awareness of their own weaknesses will help to open up their hearts to receive Jesus. However, I have met rich people with hearts on fire for Jesus and poor people who live in utter spiritual darkness. So, I don’t believe that Jesus is glorifying poverty, hunger or sorrow. But I do think God is saying He has not forgotten people who are experiencing suffering and He alone offers real hope. 

Dear Lord, 

Help us to see ourselves and others with your eyes. 

Help us to hear ourselves and others with your ears. 

Help us to love ourselves and others with your heart. 

Help us to trust and depend on you. 

Help us to help others and guide them to you, Lord and Savior.

Amen.

Day 14

Day 14 – August 21, 2021 – Jason Bolden  

Psalm 34:8-10 

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. 

Let’s look at verse 8. It tells us to ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good.’  We should look at what it is telling us to do, taste and see.  Another version says to find out for yourself that the Lord is good. The writer of this psalm is declaring that he has tasted of the Lord, and he is challenging others to do the same thing.  When we are first saved, we have such zeal and enthusiasm, we want to tell everyone about this gift we found!  We want everyone to experience the new found joy we have in Christ? So, we tell others about Christ.  It’s the same thing the psalmist is saying in this passage. He also challenges them to say that those who serve Yahweh will be blessed. Not only will they be blessed, the scriptures declare they will lack no good thing. Matthew 6:28-29 asks us why we are anxious for anything.  It tells us to consider the lilies of the field that grow without any labor. The scripture is telling us as believers, that if we put our trust in the Lord, He is going to watch over us and provide for us. Verse 9 also tells us to fear the Lord. This fear is not about being scared that the Lord is going to strike us down because we did something wrong. Instead, this fear is a reverent attitude towards God that shows our trust and obedience to him. The 10th verse says that the young lion goes hungry and may even suffer from hunger, but the people who serve God will never go hungry. In Psalm 37:25, the psalmist declares, ‘I was young but now I’m old, yet I’ve never seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging for bread.’ This scripture is showing us that as believers, if we have a reverence for the Lord, and if we trust in Him, we can be content because our Father in heaven is going to always provide for us. I pray that as you read this scripture, you think of all the times that the Lord has provided for you in the good and bad times, and as you remember, I pray that your response would be, ‘Lord You are good.’

Lord, I thank You because You are good and You have a purpose and a plan for our lives. I pray that during these 21 Days of Prayer, people would experience for themselves how good You are. Lord, help them taste and see that You are good. We trust in Your word that says we would lack nothing.  Thank You for promises, thank You for Your faithfulness. Help us to have a healthy fear of the Lord and a reverence for the things of God. Show us how to be ambassadors for this great gospel. Lord, we just love You and honor You for who You are. Amen. 

Day 13

Day 13 – August 20, 2021 – JP Durham

Psalm 16:7-8 

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also, my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. 

The mindset of contentment is something that many people struggle with on a day-to-day basis. Being content means that a person does not wish for things that do not line up with what God has planned in that person’s life. To be happy for what we have and not what we don’t. We should understand what it means to be content in God. If we wish to please God, we should look at what He has to say on the matter. 

The Bible has many passages that deal with contentment. For example, the passage Psalm 16: 7-8 says this, “I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also, my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken”. In this verse, the Lord says how we should be at ease with ourselves because God is with us, side by side. This verse tells us that we are not alone, and that we will always have a “right hand” man when we feel unsatisfied or discontent with how we are living our lives. We need to realize that God has a plan for us all, and we should turn to Him for instruction on how He wants us to live. God will tell us what He needs from us, we just have to listen. 

It is important to be content in the Lord, so that these feelings of being discontented won’t turn us away from Him. I know in my own life, it can be really hard to feel like God has a plan for me, and that the things He has set in my life, are to glorify Him. Sometimes it really helps to take a step back and appreciate how good God has been. I’ve always really liked the motto:” things could always be worse”. It helps me realize that God will work things out in the end and to always be content for what you have and not what you don’y have, 

Prayer 

Dear God, I pray that You help me find contentment in my life. Help me to not look at how others are living and envy them, for I know that You have a plan for me, and all I wish is to glorify You. Lord, please help myself and others to find peace in Your word, so that these negative feelings of discontentment do not turn us away from You.  Amen.