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Daily Devotional 6-7-19

Eternal God 
By Julie White
 
Lord, You have been our refuge in every generation. Before the mountains were born, before You gave birth to the earth and the world, from eternity to eternity, You are God. Psalm 90:1-2  
 
Augustine, like countless other philosophers, wrestled with the nature of time. Aristotle related time to motion like the sun with the earth moving across the sky. Einstein placed space, matter, energy, and time on an interconnected continuum.
 
Scripture doesn’t philosophize about time. It simply teaches that God created the sun and moon, in part to mark the passing of days. It also teaches that God is bigger than time. God transcends space and time because He created them. He holds them in the palm of His hand! We finite humans experience time as a succession of events, like floats passing by in a parade. But to an infinite God, the beginning, middle, and end are seen in a single moment. God exists above and beyond time. He is eternal.
 
Because God is eternal, He is our refuge in every generation. The passing of time has no effect on God. It seems that we often live in an emergency-type mode where people carelessly rush into things. If we don’t hurry up, we will be passed by or miss out. It is perceived shortness of time that makes us feel rushed. But not God. He never hurries. He never grows old or forgetful. He never runs out of time.
 
God wants us, His children, to shed our limited, temporal view and try to see life from the standpoint of eternity. Even when pain, injustice, confusion, frustration, and exhaustion parade through our lives, they are still only temporary, just as they were for generations past. I am amazed by what Jesus did while on earth! Any mistreatment I have experienced in my life is a total joke compared to the horrors Christ endured. As I write this, I am marveling at Christ’s humility. Instead of beating myself up for my lack of humility, I take time to praise Jesus for His.  Let me encourage you to look beyond today, beyond your circumstances to our eternal God, who died to give you your very life and invites you to live it with an eternal perspective.
 
PRAYER: Dear God, change me.  Help me to view the passage of time from your eternal perspective and to live a prayerful life, devoted to pointing others to your Glory and Majesty forever.


Daily Devotional 6-6-19

Divine Perception
By Julie White
 
May the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.  To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever.  1 Peter 5:10 – 11
 
Certain people I spend time with just get me. You could say that they hear through the ears of their hearts; that their volume button is God-tuned to just the right decibel. Along with being heard and understood, what else is it about their fellowship that is more satisfying, more fulfilling than that of others? I believe that the answer (for me at least) is, ultimately, divine restoration.
 
This world is in a constant flux of being torn down and being restored and so are we. We can’t help it. We live in a fallen world and when it knocks us down, sometimes we need help to get back up. Jesus is in the restoration business, and as His followers, we are in it too! A lot of people are screaming for help, for renovation, and not saying a word about it, and without a God-tuned volume button, we may not hear their cries.
 
We may hear their rudeness. God hears their emptiness.
We may hear anger. God hears their disappointments.
We may hear hatred. God hears their hurts.
We may hear toughness. God hears their fears.
We may observe immorality. God hears a lack of self-worth.
We may hear demands for attention. God hears cries for help.
We may observe pushiness. God hears insecurities.
We may hear stubbornness. God hears desperation.
We observe weaknesses. God sees strengths.
We see their failures. God sees their potential.
We see their past. God sees their future.  
 
One of the things God does through the gospel is to form a people (Titus 2:14). And there is nothing like the family of faith. As believers, we have inherited the family business, the business of restoration in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior! And if people willingly open their souls to your scrutiny, remember that you are on holy ground. Because of this, listen for the Holy Spirit’s guidance so that you respond using the appropriate tools.
 
PRAYER:  Thank you, Lord, for employing your people in the restoration business. Help us to hear what You hear from those around us, and then to take action with appropriate words and deeds that are effective in restoring others to You, to your love, and to your grace.


Daily Devotional 6-5-19

Freedom in Christ  
Authored by Julie White
 
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1
 
When you think Galatians, think freedom. That’s what the first readers of this letter from the apostle Paul were prompted to think. Freedom is highly sought around the world today: in politics, in society, in voting, in education. These are all important and worth working to secure, but Paul’s letter to the Galatians presents the church with a freedom that goes deeper than all of these other important freedoms: freedom in Christ, who fulfilled the law in our place and also suffered its curse in our place.
 
The Galatian believers were beginning to turn from faith to legalism. The content of this letter to the Galatians is a declaration of liberation from legalism of any type. Christ’s death is important and the apostle Paul won’t let anyone forget it. Paul spotlights the reality of our liberty in Christ – freedom from the law and the power of sin, and freedom to serve our living Lord. After all, laws can influence conduct, but they do not change one’s heart. Lasting changes begin when the Holy Spirit lives in each person.
 
Paul’s letter to the Galatians has a particular message for us, too, because it was written to people who were like us in many ways. The struggle between the Gospel and legalism is still a relevant issue.
 
While the problem of sin extends to every corner of the globe and every corner of the human heart, the grace of Christ is freely available in just as extensive a scope. The real difficulty is not in being ‘good enough’ to be saved, but in accepting the fact that we are not ‘bad enough’ to be exempt from being saved. This is the human predicament.
 
Undeserved favor. This is the glory of God’s grace. It’s like a 401K where no self-generated contribution is necessary. It is received from our divine employer, not earned. It comes through God’s promise, not God’s law. It is assessed by human faith and love, not by human works. It is a gift and gifts don’t come with a bill…and this gift changes us!
 
Paul’s letter to the Galatians urges all of us, all global Christians, to radical acts of love spotlighted by and propelled by the Gospel of grace.
 
PRAYER:  Lord help us remember that, as Christians, we are not boxed in but are set free; that grace is a way of life and a way to life; that in Christ we truly are free to love You and to love others — with no bills attached.


Daily Devotional 6-4-19

Fix Your Eyes on Jesus  

Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”  “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Matthew 14:28-30
 
Texting while driving is very dangerous. A number of lives have been lost because someone could not resist the temptation to respond to whatever text messages came on their phone while driving, and got into a crash. Texting while driving clouds judgment and reduces the ability to make quick and smart decisions. It keeps your eyes off the road and makes one vulnerable to a wreck. Texting is like a third party that distracts you.
 
In today’s text, Peter was having a lifetime experience. Walking on water was probably an unplanned highlight for Peter. He stepped out of the boat and began walking because Jesus had asked him to walk towards him. So long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he was okay. But when the wind and waves got his attention, he began sinking. The wind and waves became the third part that took Peter’s gaze from Jesus. They influenced his thought. He lost faith and fear took hold of his heart. He heard Jesus’ word and stepped out on the water, but fear took the place of the word of Jesus.
 
As you cruise on the Christian journey, many third parties will come, screaming for your attention. Most of these third parties may not be evil. Their intentions may be good. However, the occasion may not be right. Some of them, too, may be calculated attempts to wreck your faith, turning your eyes from Jesus. It could be a difficult situation at home, bad news from the doctor, a loss, difficulty with a relationship, financial issues, etc. No matter the situation, do not take your attention off Jesus. Keep your faith and trust in him, and on his Word.
 
You are only vulnerable when you are without Jesus and his Word.
 
Our world is increasing with stuff that screams for your attention, gradually taking your heart off the Word of God and your commitment to his love. Some of these things promise happiness and a good life, but they will plunge you into chaos and disorder. I invite you to keep your eyes on Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life. Without him, we will be in a wreck.
 
PRAYER: Lord, grant me the steadiness and consistency of faith to keep my loyalty and commitment to you at all time.  Help me hold on to your word in all situations.


Daily Devotional 6-3-19

Looking unto Jesus

Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
 
Jesus’ human experience is of great significance to us. Apart from the sacrificial death on the cross, which is the main reason for our salvation, Jesus also exhibited many great human attitudes towards life. Life is full of challenges. We face many battles and unexpected circumstances. While others are able to endure and overcome these challenges, many cave in, and are overcome by the battles.
 
Our text reveals Jesus’ attitude towards the pain of the crucifixion. He endured the cross because of the joy of salvation of humanity—God’s estranged people. He despised the shame of dying on the cross because God’s children would be saved only through his sacrifice. The writer of the text is encouraging us to set Jesus as our example in life. That means, we can trust him, believe him, and follow his teachings for our lives. Again, Jesus endured the cross to set an example for us to face the battles of life with confidence and boldness.
 
Jesus is the author and finisher; the origin and end of our lives. We can never do without him.  We must set our eyes on Jesus to learn his ways and values. Our failure to keep our eyes on Jesus may result in our sinking in life.
 
He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:29-31
 
Peter lost his focus and started sinking. He paid attention to the storm, and it nearly cost his life.  I want to encourage you to keep your focus and attention on Jesus and his words. Don’t give up on life. Trust in God during difficult times and see him do his work of grace to bring you peace and victory.
 
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, grant me to strength to keep my eyes on you as I move through life.


Daily Devotional 5-31-19

Divine Adoption  

For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. Romans 8:15
 
I like the writings of Paul because he unpacks the package of salvation for us. He makes us realize the significance of the finished work of Jesus on the cross. He talks about the reconciliation, transformation, restoration, and adoption as blessings from the salvation in Jesus. I love the theme of adoption which Paul talks about. Adoption is not something desirable in my culture of origin, but I have grown to see its beauty and blessing here in this culture.
 
Adoption is all about transition. When a child is adopted he/she transitions from a broken or unhealthy family into a new family that is healthy and sustaining than the previous family. The adopted child obtains a new status and identity. The past life of struggle would be done with.  Behold all things have become new for the child. In the same manner, in Christ Jesus, we have transitioned on from darkness, sin, and death into the kingdom of life, love, and light. We have transitioned from guilt, shame, and fear into peace and love. We are now free in Christ Jesus.  Free from the former life dominated by sin and death, oppression from the evil one and made alive in Christ. You belong to a new family. You are now God’s! He is your father and friend.
 
Sometimes people who transition into a new family still crave the old life. They know their former families are broken, but strangely they struggle to leave it behind. In the same manner, there are Christians who struggle to cut off from their former way of life. We have the tendency to go back to the brokenness from which we have been delivered. We fall back into fear, guilt, and shame. We get stuck in the past. But, I have good news for you. You belong to a new family. The old is gone! All things have become new in Jesus. I encourage you to live out your new life of blessings in peace, hope, love, and faith.
 
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, grant me the grace to live out the new life you have offered me freely.  


Daily Devotional 5-30-19

The Holy Spirit Promised   

While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:4
 
Humans tend to become self-reliant once they have been trained or developed to achieve a certain mastery. We often tend to have a sense of arrival when we have some certification in a field of study.
 
The disciples have been trained for three years. They have experienced the power of God in casting out demons. They were empowered to do what the religious leaders would not be able to do. They could have a sense of arrival—after all, they were just fishermen. However, Jesus told them not to rush into ministry, but to wait in Jerusalem until they receive the promise of the Father–the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ recommendation to wait on the Holy Spirit has significance for us today.
 
First, without God we can do nothing (John 15:5).  God is the source of our lives, blessings, opportunities, etc., for in him we live and move and have our being. God wants us to depend on him for our lives in its entirety. He is the source of our peace, love, harmony, joy, etc.  He wants us to depend on him for ministry. Yes, our human qualification and expertise are good, but they cannot achieve and make an impact without the enablement of the Holy Spirit. A combination of our human efforts with the Holy Spirit endowments will far achieve greater impact.
 
It will take the Holy Spirit for Christians to make an impact in our world. It will take the Holy Spirit to be a living Church in a dying world. Have you fought with your own might and resources, and realized things are not getting better?
 
Have you realized the more you try to fight, the more you loose and fail? I encourage you to turn your attention to the Holy Spirit, depend on him, and allow him to direct your affairs. If the early disciples could not do without the Holy Spirit, what makes us think we can? If the early church could not do without him, what makes us think we can without him?
 
PRAYER:  Heavenly Father, grant me the patience to wait and depend completely on you.


Daily Devotional 5-29-19

Jesus at the Center 

The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: The Israelites shall camp each in their respective regiments, under ensigns by their ancestral houses; they shall camp facing the tent of meeting on every side…The tent of meeting, with the camp of the Levites, shall set out in the center of the camps; they shall set out just as they camp, each in position, by their regiments. Numbers 2:1, 17
 
I am so glad we serve a God who is greatly involved in our lives because He is a person who desires relationship. His involvement in our lives dates back into the Old Testament, as we read the stories of the Israelites. God is so powerful to care about the cosmos, and yet so personal to be interested in individual affairs.
 
Our text today, pictures an outline of the settlement of the twelve tribes of Israel in relation to the tabernacle of God as they settled in the wilderness. All twelve tribes settled around the tabernacle; thus, the tabernacle was at the center of the camp. The tabernacle represented the presence of God among the Israelites, and the central position of it symbolized the position of God in the life of Israel. God occupied the center of their lives and all they did.
 
It excites me to know that we don’t have to construct tabernacles anymore! For we have become the tabernacle of God, and the Holy Spirit dwells in us. Just as God’s tabernacle occupied the central position in the camp of the Israelites so must God occupy the central position in our lives.  We must keep Jesus at the center of our lives. Jesus being at the center of lives is so important in many ways. It makes him hold the pieces of our lives together. He becomes the source of our identity, and it makes him direct our lives through Spirit-led decisions and choices.
 
What is Jesus’ position in your life? Is he at the center or at the fringe? If he is at the center, I encourage you to keep him there. If he is not, I invite you to move whoever or whatever is occupying the center of your life away and allow Christ to take his rightful place in your life.
 
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me to keep you at the center of my life, family, finances, etc., and forgive me for the times when I did not depend on you.


Daily Devotional 5-28-19

Running Away from God

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying, “Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid his fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord. Jonah 1:1-3
 
Sometimes Christians put ministers on a high pedestal as if they are angels, who do not experience and share in the brokenness of humans. I like the story of Jonah because he was a prophet who displayed his brokenness so strongly. Most Old Testament prophets had a clean record of obedience to the commands of God—not this Jonah. God sent Jonah to Nineveh to preach to them; peradventure they may repent and God would not have to bring judgment on them. However, this prophet and preacher walked away from God’s invitation. He decided not to obey God; instead thought of traveling away to a distant land, far from the presence of God. Nineveh was 550 miles to the east, but Jonah decided to travel 2500 miles to the west. Can you picture the layout in your mind? He was simply running away from God.
 
Yes, he was a prophet, but his attitude towards God’s call is quite similar to lots of people. Some Christians have been running away from God for a long time. They know God has laid something on their heart, but they have been giving excuses. I knew God had called me into ministry, but I kept running away from Him. I told Him I could work in the gold mining company, make good money, and still do his work. No, God wanted me in full-time ministry and I kept running away from that call. Many people run from God’s call for many reasons. In my case, I wanted to make money.
 
We run away from God in many ways. It could be a refusal to visit a friend at the hospital, help a family member or friend in need. Overlooking the need of the family next door, seeing the children starving and not doing anything about it. Sometimes, you see a child has no good clothes and you simply look unconcerned. There is a desire in your heart to invite your friend to church, but you’ve been ignoring it. I want to encourage you to run and work with God; collaborate with him, and be a star in someone’s sky.
 
PRAYER: Lord, forgive me for ignoring your voice and commandments. Grant me the boldness to love you through service to people around me.