Category - Devotion

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Expecting Nothing in Return
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Following Instructions
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God Only Gave
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So They Might See Your Good Works
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Paralyzed in Sin

Expecting Nothing in Return

It was camping day at school and all the kids were supposed to bring a flashlight. Our kid didn’t have one so I let her borrow mine. At the bus stop, I took a moment to explain to her the importance of taking care of someone else’s stuff when you are borrowing it. That means you have to bring it back exactly as it is. You cannot throw it around or draw on it. It’s not yours. And if it gets broken or lost, you have to replace it.

I gave that little speech in part because the concept of borrowing is hard to understand when you’re six. You think, it’s in my hand’s so it must be mine. I also chose this moment to teach this lesson because, well, to be real honest, I really liked that flashlight. It’s the perfect size to fit in my purse. It’s a beautiful blue color and it has LED lights. I wanted it returned to me in good shape. I was happy to lend it out, as long as I could be assured that it would return unharmed.

This past Sunday, our middle school girl’s class had a lesson on the topic, “Love Your Enemies.” The passage came from Luke 6:27-36.

And I must admit – I felt a good eye roll coming on as I sighed and thought, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Love your enemies. Got it.” It was as if the Devil wanted me to shut my mind down before approaching Scripture. This passage is extremely familiar to me so I felt my mind drifting as I read along…

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Following Instructions

I never realized how many rules our house has. When it was just my husband and me, the rules were unspoken. We picked up our shoes from the living room and put them in our closet, flushed the toilet after using it, wore jackets when it was cold outside, and so on. But when a child was added to our household, suddenly it seemed our home overflowed with rules. The unspoken rules were spoken, written, and posted on the wall. Even rules I never thought to create were repeatedly enforced.

The rules keep us safe and keep us sane (okay, maybe they just keep me sane – by my sanity is crucial to the continuance of our safe household!) Rules teach us to obey authority figures, make decisions, and experience both the negative and positive results of our choices.

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God Only Gave

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Our six year old’s first memory verse for the Awana program at church was the first verse, to our knowledge, that she’s ever read.

For God so loved the world that He only gave His Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have an eternal life. John 3:16

That’s how she recited it to me for a week. It was so close to being accurate. Read it again if you just skimmed through it. What was her big mistake?

God only gave His Son! She had no idea why this placement of the word “only” changed the meaning so drastically. Because God didn’t just only give His Son. He gave His only Son!

The Lord of this universe sacrificed His dearly loved Son so that we would have a way back into a right relationship with Him! Now that’s love!

When I love, I don’t usually love perfectly. I love the way my child memorized the verse. I only give part of myself. I only do enough to be convincing some days. Rarely do I give up everything of myself.

Praise the Lord that His love shines brightly through the verse of John 3:16. It’s one that I am far too often tempted to skim over since I’m confident in my knowledge of it. But God used this moment last week to remind me that His word is still active and living. Even in a verse that I’ve known my entire life He is able to draw me closer to Himself.

So They Might See Your Good Works

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In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
– Matthew 5:16

I’m ashamed to admit there are many times that I try to apply this verse to my life and it looks like this:

Let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works.

But that’s not where the verse ends! The most important part has been cut out – “so that they may give glory to your Father in heaven!”

I’ve spent a fair amount of time in and around nonprofit organizations. There are plenty of good people who volunteer and donate their time and money but they themselves are not followers of Christ. You don’t have to be a follower of Christ to do good works. So what’s the difference between a Christian and a nonChristian doing a good deed?

We’re all doing the same work – right? We’re all walking dogs at the animal shelter, washing dishes at the soup kitchen, and cleaning up in disaster relief programs. But what’s the end goal?

That’s a question that as a Christian I must constantly insert into my life to examine my heart’s motivations. Why am I doing this? Is it simply to look good? Is it to make other jealous? Or am I letting my actions give glory to God?

Anyone can feed the hungry with the end goal of filling physical stomachs. But there is more to the Christian faith. We feed the hungry to meet a physical need so that we can then build trust to help meet a spiritual need.

As this week comes to a close, ask the Holy Spirit to examine your works and reveal to you whether they are glorifying yourself or God. Repent of those that bring honor solely to yourself and ask for God’s help to glorify Him in all that you do.

Paralyzed in Sin

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This past Sunday, our  middle school girls’ class studied the passage of the paralyzed man whose friends lowered him through a roof to Jesus. Since we were all very familiar with this story, we decided to retell it from each viewpoint in the story – the paralyzed man, his friends, the crowd, the scribes, and Jesus.

And we collectively admitted that we are not as passionate about bringing our lost friends and family to Christ as we ought to be.

To get to that realization, let’s look just 5 verses before this story. In Mark 1:40-45, a man with a serious skin disease came to Jesus on his knees and begged for healing. Jesus healed him, warned him not to tell anyone, yet the man proclaimed his healing widely anyways.

So Mark gives us this wonderfully enthusiastic story of a man healed. And then instantly transitions to the story of the paralytic man. (If you’re not familiar with this story, read Mark 2:1-12).

We know very little about the paralytic. He doesn’t say anything. We don’t see him fall before Jesus and beg for healing. We don’t even know if he knew who Jesus was. All we know is that his friends so desperately wanted him to know Jesus and His healing that they were willing to carry him onto the roof, tear a hole in it, and lower him to Jesus. Nothing deterred them from their passion to bring their friend to Jesus – not other people or physical barriers.

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