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Daily Devotional 5-1-19

God, My Positive Focus 
 
Do you believe God is near? He wants you to. He wants you to know that He is in the midst of your world. Wherever you are, He is present. In your car, a restaurant, your office, your bedroom, and your kitchen. He’s always nearby. He is as near to you on Monday as He is on Sunday; in the grocery store as in the sanctuary; at a coffee break as much as at the communion table.
 
And behold! I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)
 
That’s why His Word, the Bible, speaks about the things in our world. It is addressed to you and me.  It speaks to our needs, our hopes, and our dreams. Wherever you are in life, wherever you go in this world––His promises speak of His personal passion for you! His faithfulness is clear.  And, His will to change the world? Relentless. God has drawn ever so near to you, hovering over your shoulder, reading your every thought.
 
He knows the secrets of every heart. (Psalm 44:20)
 
People may think that thoughts are fleeting and worthless, but yours are precious to God! God’s Spirit, who lives within you, helps you think His thoughts. As your heart-thinking goes, so goes your entire being. So, let God be your positive focus.
 
When you look to God, knowing Him as God with you, you experience true joy.  This is according to God’s ancient design when He first crafted man.  Modern man seeks his positive focus elsewhere: in sports, sensations, job titles, acquiring new possessions. Advertising capitalizes on the longing of people for a positive focus in their lives.  God planted that longing in your human soul, knowing that only He could fully satisfy it.
 
Delight yourself in Me; let Me become the desire of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
 
PRAYER:  Dear Father, please help me delight myself in You by reading and meditating on Your Word and by safeguarding Your thoughts in my heart. Amen
 
REFLECTION:  What thoughts/longings do you have that reflect your love for God and others?


Daily Devotional 4-30-19

In Tune with God
 
Scripture: Psalm 25:8-10
 
Good and upright is the Lord; therefore, he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.
 
Trust God enough to spend time with Him, pushing back the demands of the day. Refuse to feel guilty about something that is so pleasing to Him, the King of the Universe! Moments with God transcend time, accomplishing far more than you can imagine.  Bring God the sacrifice of your time early in the day, then again in the hurried middle, and at the end as the day winds down.
 
Because He is omnipotent, He is able to bend time and events in your favor. You will find that you can accomplish more in less time after you have given yourself to Him in rich communion.  Also, as you align yourself with His perspective, you can sort out what is important and what is not.
 
The Lord leads the humble in doing right, teaching them His way. The Lord leads, with unfailing love and faithfulness, all who keep His covenant and obey His commands. (Psalm 25:8-10)
 
I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. (Psalm 32:8)
 
Don’t fall into the trap of being constantly on the go. Many, many things people do in God’s name have no value in His Kingdom. To avoid doing meaningless works, stay in continual communication with Him. God longs to guide you with love and wisdom!
 
God uses people to change the world. People. He uses all of us, and what we may lack in perfection, God makes up for in love. Have you ever wondered how God could use you to make a difference in the world? How you could be more in tune with God’s will?
 
Here are some simple ideas that cost nothing but can yield tremendous dividends: Listen without interrupting (Proverbs 18), speak without accusing (James 1:19), answer without arguing (Proverbs 20:3), enjoy without complaining (Philippians 2:14), forgive without punishing (Colossians 3:13), promise without forgetting (Ecclesiastes 5:5).
 
PRAYER: Dear God, help me to spend more time with You, learning from You, and loving like You.
 
REFLECTION: What will you do in order to be more in tune with God today? How could you become an encourager of others who seem a bit out of tune?


Daily Devotional 4-29-19

School of Love
 
Scripture: Isaiah 49:16 See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.
 
Let God’s love enfold you in the radiance of His glory. Bask in His presence, and receive His love.
 
“I accept you as you are.”
“I believe you are valuable.”
“I care when you hurt.”
“I desire only what’s best for you.”
“I erase all offenses.”
 
Beautiful statements designed by the alphabet of God’s love. But, the world’s love is very different.  The world’s love says, “I’d love you if you looked like me. I’d love you if you do what I say.  How you treat me determines how much I’ll love you.”
 
Tattoo this on your heart instead: Godly love, real authentic love, has staying power.
 
And God’s love doesn’t hinge on yours. You have no thermostatic impact on His love for you. The abundance of your love does not increase His. The lack of your love does not diminish His.  Your goodness does not enhance His love, nor does your weakness dilute it. God loves you simply because He has chosen to love you. He loves you when you don’t feel lovely. He loves you when no one else seems to love you. Others may abandon you, mistreat you, and ignore you. But God?
 
I will never fail you or abandon you. (Joshua 1:5, Hebrews 13:5)
 
God will love you. Always. No matter what. Does He love you because of your goodness and your kindness and your deep faith? No, He loves you because of His.
 
Prayer: Almighty Father, help me to internalize the ABCs of Your love. Remind me that I am so important to you that you have inscribed my name on the palms of Your hands (Isaiah 49:16).  Amen
 
Response: How can you help others to understand the depth and breadth and height of the love of God, our Wonderful Teacher?
 
PRAYER: Father, help me to trust and rely fully on your love.


Daily Devotional 4-26-19

Cosmic Second Chance 
 
 But now [at this very moment] in Christ Jesus you who once were [so very] far away [from God] have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:13
This week we have been looking at some of the blessings bestowed on us because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Today, we focus on “cosmic second chance.” In the beginning, as the story of humanity began, we messed up our relationship through the disobedience of Adam. Imagine what life in heaven would be like; the consistent daily interaction with God in the garden––the beautiful creation of God. I know it is hard for us to comprehend such a blissful life in the garden because we are used to seeing brokenness and blessings side by side. In our experience, joy and suffering walk hand in hand, pleasure and pain are twins.
 
God, through his Son, Jesus Christ, has given us a second chance. Praise God! God, through his Son, has reconciled us to himself. Today’s text says we were once very far from the presence of God. We had no dealings with God, we were separated from God. I am glad to announce that our position relative to God has changed forever. We have been brought near him. That means we can know the mind of God, hear him when he speaks to us, and be close to him as Adam was with him in the garden. Now, why would God brings us close to himself? My response would be that God values us. This may be hard for you to believe and accept because you have seen yourself through the lenses of your brokenness and what others, and society, think of you.
 
You are a treasure of God, and he puts a high premium on you. You want to know the value God places on you? Check out Jesus on the cross. That should settle the case. He loved you that much, to become like one of us and die and shameful death. Accept this opportunity given you so you can love God again with your whole heart, mind, and soul. Take advantage of the blessing of this second chance so that you can love yourself as God loves you. Some of us are too hard on ourselves. We are filled with fear, we hate things about ourselves and try covering that up with veneers. You can accept, love, and appreciate yourself again. You do not have to live your life trying to please everyone against yourself. That is hard labor. Jesus’ resurrection has freed you.
 
In Christ Jesus, you have a second chance to live out your destiny.  
 
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, help me to accept Christ’s offering of a second chance, that I may have a new life filled with the presence of God. 


Daily Devotional 4-25-19

Our True Citizenship
 
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20
 
Diversity within humanity is one of the many masterpieces showcasing the remarkable creativity of our loving God. One of these diversities is ethnicity. Prior to my coming to this nation, I had a very distant perspective about the different ethnicities of the world. However, when I showed up in this melting pot of cultures, I realized how close I had come to the different people of the world. The proximity enhanced my appreciation and interaction with the different ethnicities.
 
Among my interaction with different people from different ethnic backgrounds, I have come to realize how people are proud of their culture of origin. I am proud of my ethnicity, and in my ministry, I love to integrate elements from my culture of origin to add to the richness of my service. I know Americans have a long-standing history of their pride for their nation. Our backgrounds are the places God planted us, and we ought to be proud of it. Another theme I picked up as I engaged with different ethnicities is identity. It is a truism that our backgrounds shape our identity.
 
Our text today, tunes our minds on citizenship to a different frequency. Paul, preaches boldly that, our citizenship is in heaven. This is truly the primary source of our identity. We are first citizens of heaven before our earthly citizenship. Peter adds his voice to this conversation by saying, “Dear friends, I urge you as aliens and temporary residents not to give in to the desires of your old nature, which keep warring against you.” (1 Peter 2:11)  Wow, Peter! Do you see what I see? Jesus’ resurrection has reconnected us to our home of origin. We are temporary residents in this world! We are immigrants on this earth and we will return to our home of origin.  The best part of this is that as citizens of heaven we have rights and privileges to enjoy.
 
Yes, we may have our different cultural backgrounds, but the reality is that as children of God we are of the same citizenship. So, let us set our minds on things that are above, cultivating the practices and values of heaven—our country of origin. Let us ponder on things that are noble, true, pure, worthy of praise, excellent, lovely, and Christ-like.
 
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, strengthen me to break all ties to this world; and cultivate the practices of my true home—heaven.


Daily Devotional 4-24-19

3D Forgiveness

In him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us.  Ephesians 1:7-8.
 
We just witnessed the joy of family and friends during Easter celebrations. Many churches had wonderful services to usher us into the new life God offers us through the death and the resurrection of Jesus. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! For lots of people, the meaning of Easter ends with the celebrations and company of friends and family during that time. This morning I would want to draw your attention to one of the many riches and blessings associated with the resurrection of Jesus.
 
The whole narrative of the Christian journey is that God is reclaiming his people. The account from Genesis to the book of Revelation is a narrative of how God reclaimed, is reclaiming, and will reclaim his people. This takes us back to when humanity fell from the presence of God. Through Adam, we sinned against God. And sin brought death—spiritual separation from God.  Sin is that powerful, but it does not have the final say. It has a remedy!
 
Our text today tells us of the forgiveness we have received from God according to the riches of God’s grace made available through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  …by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation; you have made them be a kingdom and priests serving our God. Revelation 5:9-10.
 
Through the blood of Jesus, God has forgiven and washed us of our sins. We are longer debtors to sin. Now, this is the good part: God’s forgiveness is three-dimensional. He has forgiven us of our past, present, and future sins. That sounds too good to be true, right? Jesus’ sacrifice was a one-time provision. If your future sins are not taken care, then Christ will have to come back and die again for those future sins.
 
Therefore, do not impede your progress by the sins of your past. Free your soul from any form of imprisonment you have endured and enjoy the blessing of forgiveness through Jesus Christ. The reality is that many people are walking around with guilt while a provision for their freedom has been made. People are carrying needless burdens. I want to invite you to drop your burdens of the past and present sins and embrace the gift of God in Christ Jesus.
 
Receive Christ’s forgiveness so that you can extend forgiveness to others.
 
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, free me from self-inflicted guilt and shame, that I may receive the gift of forgiveness in Christ Jesus.


Daily Devotional 4-23-19

Minds Above  
 
…seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1
 
Today’s devotion is a sequel to what I shared yesterday.  We looked at the truth that we are no longer slaves to fear and sin.  Our text today opens for us a new reality and a new way of thinking and living.  Our new life in Christ Jesus means the old life, the old patterns of thinking and living that were contrary to God’s love, have been buried.  They do not exist anymore.  Therefore, set your minds on things above—on heavenly things.  This encouragement brings the question, “What are the heavenly and earthly things?” How do we identify earthly and heavenly things?  What do the words earthly and heavenly mean in this context?
 
Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry)… But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth, Col. 3:5 Paul, the apostle, outlines for us the things he considered earthly.  The above list belongs to the earth and darkness.  We are to rid ourselves of these things.
 
You do not belong to the earth anymore! Paul then goes on to tell us of the heavenly things: As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Col. 3:12
 
You belong to heaven—a new way of thinking and living!
 
Imagine our world if a fraction of Christians began to live with this mentality. Imagine how our families, friendships, churches, schools, government, etc., would be if we live with minds set on heaven.  No one buries a loved one and goes back to dig them out again because they love them so much.  When Jesus died, we died with him.  And we cannot go back to dig up our old nature that was buried with him.  Instead, we have resurrected into new persons who have the capacity to set their minds on heaven to make the earth worth living. Are you living with a heavenly mentality or earthly one? What attitudes in your life could classify as heavenly or earthly?
 
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, fill me with your power to live with a heavenly mentality.


Daily Devotional 4-22-19

Easter People

“…you have been raised with Christ…”  Colossians 3:1
 
Our Christians faith has a very strong and unshakeable foundation. Our faith is not just about the death of Jesus, but also about the resurrection of the same.  We do not just die to the world, sin, and self.  We die in order to live.  This is because our savior did not remain in the grave. Death could not hold him captive as it had done many people.  The grave had swallowed up people and held them down.  But, not in the case of our savior. Death had a different experience.  For the first time, death was defeated and destroyed.  I believe that death was surprised that its sting was broken and its hold on humanity was shattered.  The apostle Paul tells us that not only could death not stand against Jesus, but we have been delivered from the power of death.  Jesus did not resurrect alone, but he raised us up with him.  We have another opportunity to live in union with God, each other. and ourselves.
 
If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 1 Cor. 15:17
 
My passion and confidence in the Gospel is not in my own abilities.  For the Christian, the resurrection of Jesus has become the ever-living foundation.  The fact of the resurrection is proof that Jesus is the sure way to God, and you can trust and rely on him.  Therefore, I am confident in proclaiming His Gospel.  I want to encourage you not to walk in fear or intimidation.  Do not live your life as someone without hope, or as a person whose life is susceptible to the hazards of life.  Your faith in Christ has a sure foundation, and if you have faith, you can face life and be victorious.
 
We have been raised with Christ, and that means, we are no more separated from God.  There has been a restoration of the broken relationship and fellowship.  No more are we aliens to God.  No more is our God distant from us! The chasm has been closed because Jesus was resurrected from death.  While the resurrection may have a general blessing for all Christians, it also may bring specific healing to all of our varying situations.  Whatever your challenge is, there is enough hope in Christ for you to be confident about your future.
 
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, open my eyes to see the blessings of the resurrection of Christ, that I may live and walk as an Easter person.


Daily Devotional 4-19-19

The Cosmic Scapegoat  

From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:45-46
 
In the old covenant, two goats were required on the Day of Atonement. One was sacrificed and the high priest lays his hands on the head of the other goat and mentions all the sins of the Israel. The implication is that the goat carries all the sins of Israel. This live goat is left to wander off from the camp of Israel into the wilderness. This is the scapegoat. This has a strong connection to what happened to Jesus on the cross.
 
The only begotten Son of God hung on the cross and felt forsaken by a loving father. It felt like the father had deserted him. This was the first time in his earthly life where the Father had been distant. There were no angels ministering to him. His cry revealed the depth of rejection and isolation he experienced from the communion of the Godhead. Why did this happen? Why was the Father not close to him? The answer is simple: sin. At this time, Jesus was carrying all the sins of humanity. In fact, Paul explains in a higher and deeper dimension, “For our sake he made him be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God,” 1 Corinthians 5:21. This even reveals that Jesus did not just carry our sins; instead, he became sin. The holy Son of the Father had become sinful in the eyes of his Father, as such just as God separated himself from Adam; God had separated himself from Jesus because he had become sin.
 
On the cross, Jesus became sin, not a sinner. He became a lie, not a liar. He became immorality, not an immoral person. He became hatred, not a hater. He became wickedness, not a wicked person. Do you see the depth of what happened on the cross? Jesus has shifted from being holy to sin for your sake. When he became sin, we became the righteousness of God.
 
As I type these words, I am seeing what happened on the cross in a different light. I am asking myself the question, “If he went through all these for me, what can I do to appreciate his act of love?” Is it not to offer my life wholly and live out God’s righteousness?
 
PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, that you became sin that I may become God’s righteousness. Help me to live out your righteousness in this world.