Devotions for Your Daily Walk With Christ
Devotion Ideas for your meeting or group.
John Quincy Adams said, "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." If those actions inspire others to grow in Christ more, you are a Christian leader. I believe that in order to be effective Christian leaders, we must continually read and reflect on the word of God, and one excellent way to do that is to use a devotional, scripture based reading that causes us to consider God's word and what it means to us personally.
Each time I read scripture I am challenged to a new and deeper level in my walk with Christ. And often I'm inspired to share my revelations. The result of this inspiration is what you'll find below, for you see, I delight in finding, and helping others find, what I call "aha" moments in my walk with Christ.
In addition to the devotions I've archived here (and on a dozen more pages that you'll find linked below), I send out new devotional moments about twice a month. Sign up to get them below.
Devotions You'll Find on This Page
The Nazareth Principle
Proof of God
A Lesson From the Kings
The Story of Job . . .
Cancel the Egyptian Vacation
The Nazareth Principle
Luke 4:14-30 & Matthew 13:53-58
"Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit."
Wouldn't that be a great way to arrive at home? Perhaps you've gone out of town for business or because your parents needed you for a week. Have you ever "returned . . . in the power of the Spirit"? I'm guessing the answer is no. Perhaps if you went away for a spiritual renewal weekend of some kind, you might at least be renewed by the Spirit if not "in the power of the Spirit." However, generally when we come home from a trip, we arrive exhausted without much thought to life in the Spirit.
Regardless, we do often feel like Jesus. Our immediate welcome is overwhelming, the children shower us with hugs, our spouse is full of love; it feels good to be home. Like Jesus, though, it doesn't take long for the welcome to wear off and the wearisome to settle in. It may sound something like, "Honey, while you were gone . . ." or "Mom, did you remember I need . . ." They wouldn't treat a stranger like that! No, a stranger would continue to feel welcome for days. They wouldn't be expected to throw in a load of laundry and do all the dishes left in the sink while they were gone.
It's because, like Jesus, our family has become too familiar. They take us for granted and place higher expectations on us than complete strangers. They know what we are capable of, and they expect us to never let us down. It's a daunting task, even for Jesus.
On the other hand, while we expect the most from our family, our expectations sometimes limit them. Jesus' family was well known to the people in Nazareth. They were certain Jesus would be a carpenter; He was, after all, a carpenter's son. They could not believe this son of Mary and Joseph could be the Christ. They'd watched Him grow up. He'd played with their kids. Even the fact He was the most well behaved child they'd ever met couldn't convince them He was a Rabbi, let alone the Messiah.
Likewise, when we consider our family, our familiarity with their faults sometimes keeps us from perceiving their progress. Until it's time to buy new clothes, we don't always notice our children are growing; it's such a slow and steady rate. Spiritual growth works the same way. It would be so handy to have marks on the wall to measure spiritual growth, but the things of the Spirit don't work that way. It may be difficult to see that your spouse is yelling less at the children, since he still yells from time to time. And the fact that your son kept his room clean for an entire week might go unnoticed on that Saturday you walk in and nothing is in its place. Even your own growth might not be evident to you without a journal to remind you of thoughts you had early in your Christian walk.
Unfortunately, progress that goes unseen, growth that no one believes in, can be a hindrance to those who are attempting to become more mature or change their character defects. Jesus could only do a few miracles because of their lack of faith. Similarly, growth that is thrown back in your loved one's face causes it to be stunted.
It's a phenomenon I will forever call, "The Nazareth Principle." It's the idea that when we don't believe in a person, we limit their abilities, stop their progress and keep them from being all they can be. Children need an adult to believe they can be all they were created to be. Teens need parents and teachers to see in them the possibilities and the promise of more. They need us to look at the potential rather than the present, and adults need friends and family to have faith there is more to them than their past failures, poor choices and character defects.
The Nazareth Principle cannot be used as an excuse for not trying, but if we pay attention, we'll see it at work in many of our family members, colleagues and congregation. It's evident in children that are condemned because of their parents, siblings that bear the burden of their older brother's behavior, people who have heard those deadly words their entire life: words like can't, won't stupid, dumb, ugly, idiot.
The good news is you and I have the power to stop it. We have the ability to reverse the effects of the Nazareth Principle give people the power to see miracles in their own lives. Phrases like, "you can do it," "I believe in you," "I love you," and most importantly, "Jesus Christ loves you and created you to be more than you can ever imagine," can recreate them. Words of love, encouragement, acceptance and belief can transform a person's thinking, being, doing and living. Our job will be difficult, because along the path, we'll be tempted to become too familiar. It will be easy to miss the slow but steady growth this kind of nourishment can bring, but if we're patient and have faith, not only in the person transforming, but in the One who can bring phenomenal transformation, we will be amazed at the miracles we will see.
Proof of God
What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
[Abraham] said to [the rich man], ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.
I just finished reading a book called, “Proof of God.” I don’t necessarily recommend it. My granddaughter got it for me for Christmas because she thought the title might be something I’d like. She was correct, the title intrigued me.
However, the further I delved into the book and realized this scientist wasn’t making any points I hadn’t already heard, the more I realized we can’t prove God exists. The author noted that many of his findings had been confirmed by Stephen Hawking, findings the author believed proved God’s existence beyond a shadow of a doubt, findings Hawking used to dismiss the same Creator.
I found myself comparing his attempt to prove an Intelligent Designer to an episode of “Big Bang Theory.” Amy Farrah Fowler wants Sheldon to attend a family wedding with her because her family didn’t believe she had a boyfriend. If you haven’t ever seen the series, it’s helpful to know Miss Farrah Fowler is a Neuro Scientist who dresses more conservative and in more layers and less colors than a Mayflower Pilgrim forced to travel on a Naval vessel. When she lived amongst her family she’d never had a date, let alone a beau, so her aunts and uncles found the idea of a boyfriend ludicrous. A photo wouldn’t even convince them. Amy’s only hope was that they meet Sheldon in person.
And that’s our only hope for our family and friends. The Bible makes it clear that God has left plenty of proof of His invisible qualities. All of nature screams, “We have a Creator.” And the authors of “Proof of God” are correct, the more science uncovers, the more evidence and probability there is that Creation didn’t just happen.
Unfortunately, all that proof isn’t enough to convince folks there is a God. It wouldn’t have mattered how many gifts, pictures or stories Amy Farrah Fowler shared with her family, they still wouldn’t have believed Sheldon existed. Just like Amy’s family needed to meet Sheldon, question him and take time to believe he really was a boyfriend, our friends and family need to meet the Savior. They need to get to know Him, experience the difference He makes and explore the possibility there really is a God who loves them enough to die for them.
The greatest proof of a God who creates and re-creates is a re-created you. For many folks the only Jesus they will ever see is you and me being the body of Christ. If we want the world, or even our little section of it to come to Christ, we must let the Holy Spirit start living in us and working through us. Then our lives will be a very convincing Proof of God.
More Devotions to Inspire You
- More Devotions for Church Leaders and Small Groups
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- Devotional Readings from the New Testament
How often do you spend time considering your relationship with Jesus Christ? How many times a week do you listen for His voice and consider His plan for you? In the hectic day to day often it's difficult. We get up, rush to work, hurry home, get a...
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Lynne Preaches from Time to Time
A Lesson From the Kings
[King Rehoboam] did evil
because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord.
2 Chronicles 12:14
The Israelites were subdued on that occasion,
and the people of Judah were victorious
because they relied on the Lord, the God of their ancestors.
2 Chronicles 13:18
Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. . . .
and the kingdom was at peace under him.
2 Chronicles 14:2-5
I think the kings of Judah did a good job answering the question, “How important is it to have your life centered on God?” I’m amazed at how obvious it seems. How could those “evil” kings have strayed so far when the consequences were so clear? It makes me wonder if the need for the Creator was as evident as they were living through it.
I love the quote from Edmund Burke, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” Those Judean kings prove he was right. Plus they give us a lot of life lessons if we are willing to learn from their history.
Rehoboam’s main problem was he didn’t have his heart set on seeking the Lord. When you read his story, you’ll discover that wasn’t his only problem, just the root. But his story begs the question, “Is my heart set on seeking the Lord?” Abijah, the king from 2 Chronicles 13 and Asa, should inspire us to reflect, “Do I rely on the Lord? Am I doing what is good and right in the eyes of the King of kings?”
So often I encounter folks who don’t understand why life is dealing them such a lousy hand. Yes, there are times, like the better kings of Judah, we will follow Jesus, truly rely on Him and still life doesn’t go right; however, too often the answer to our problems is found in the history of the Judean monarchy.
We cannot expect the blessings of our heavenly Father to be poured out on us when we aren’t living a life worthy of a Savior who gave His life for us. Hebrews explains this tactic is kin to crucifying Christ all over again.
Let’s take a lesson from Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa and their descendants. Two of my favorites are Josiah and Joash (2 Chronicles 35 and 18 respectively). Go ahead, check them out! These kings can help us discover the secret to subduing our enemies and finding real peace. We find the truth in the words of Moses, “Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)
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A New Season, A New You!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
Recently when I was praying, thinking about these verses, I wondered “Am I in the market for a rebuild or a remodel?” Let’s face it, when we’re thinking about giving our home a new look, it’s much easier to slap on a coat of paint and replace the carpet than tear the thing down and start over. From the world’s standpoint it doesn’t make much sense to rebuild when the structure appears to be just fine.
But when it comes to the human condition, Jesus says He wants a rebuild. Take it all down and put up something new. And the truth is that right there is a scary thought!
Even if we don’t like all we’ve become, there are often parts we’d like to hold on to. We try to convince Jesus we just need a new wing, not a whole new building. The electrical system is fine, let’s just put in new cabinets and flooring. But Jesus is the contractor who does all or nothing.
That’s not to say He sometimes doesn’t use the old to form the new. Churches often take the stained glass windows from century old buildings when they put up something more modern. Likewise, Jesus might choose to save the most beautiful parts of us when His Spirit molds us. Our dilemma arises when we discover if we want the rebuild, we don’t get a say in which parts are remade and which are discarded.
As we begin the New Year many of us will be making resolutions. “A New Year, a New You” is a popular theme. We’re sure we’re going to do it better this time! I’m wondering how often we forget to ask the Master Carpenter what His blueprints look like in this time of renewal.
Remember, Jesus isn’t looking for the new, improved you. He doesn’t need the recently remodeled, updated version. Our Savior is waiting for the willing you, the broken, but eager to be rebuilt, humbled you. And as He begins making everything new, you’ll begin to know the peace that comes from not doing it yourself. Let’s give up the do-it-yourself resolutions and let Christ make us new creations this year.
The Story of Job . . .
The Story of the World
I love meeting with others to study scripture. Even when I’m leading the group, I learn so much, and often I hear Christ in a new way. This week, my study group looked at the book of Job. I smiled as some in the group were inspired by Job’s story, while even more would prefer to never read the book again.
Most of us shared similar concerns about Job’s story. We don’t really like it that God gave Satan permission to attack this righteous man, and it’s always troubling to know he lost all of his children. The three would-be friends are a constant source of inspiration for “what not to do” when a friend is going through rough times, and God’s response in the final chapters doesn’t really seem to answer Job’s questions. We all agreed on the common lessons we find in Job, but there’s one thing we always ask in my group when we’re reading the Old Testament, and it’s this question that spoke to me.
As we read those first 39 books of the Bible, we always ask, “Where can we see Jesus?” This is the question that has brought the Old Testament to life for me, and as I contemplated the book of Job during our study time, God revealed a bit of truth to me. In addition to the beautiful word pictures we see of the Almighty and the lessons that Job has taught us about faith, I saw the story of salvation from the moment of creation through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
You see, Job is a beautiful foreshadowing of all that Christ would come to do. Much like Job, each of us was born with the potential of righteousness, created in the image of God. This picture of a faultless human is a reminder of Adam and Eve as they walked in the garden with their Creator. In that time before they ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, this couple lived in the beauty of complete and perfect righteousness.
Unfortunately, Adam and Eve weren’t like Job. When the enemy came to them, and they were tempted to forego their trust in the Almighty, the mother and father of humanity gave in to temptation and introduced sin to the world. And Job’s story demonstrates the devastation brought about by their folly.
It’s the first few chapters of Job that show us the enemy bringing ruin to the righteous. Those long discourses by Job and his less than encouraging friends mirror the world after the fall. Because of the fall, even though we are created in the image of God, we have nothing. Original sin forfeits our rights as sons and daughters of God and steals every ounce of joy and prosperity we may have. The words of humans become hollow and useless. Life is meaningless.
Completely meaningless . . . until, like Job, we experience restoration. From the creation of man in the image of the Righteous God, the entrance of sin, destruction and loss, to the promise and potential of full restoration, Job is a beautiful illustration of the story of the world. You see, no matter what we’ve lost because of the sin that we find on the earth, Jesus can restore. Regardless of our feeling that we can’t possibly be created in God’s image, we know that Jesus was sent to this earth to restore us to His Father, to restore us to perfection and righteousness, to give to you and I, the opportunity to find, like Job, that a life lived in faith and trust in the sovereignty of the One who gave us life can bring us the blessing of full and lovely restoration.
Cancel the Egyptian Vacation
1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses,
who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord.
2 Yet he too is wise and can bring disaster; he does not take back his words.
He will rise up against that wicked nation, against those who help evildoers.
3 But the Egyptians are mere mortals and not God; their horses are flesh and not spirit.
When the Lord stretches out his hand, those who help will stumble,
those who are helped will fall; all will perish together.
Every time I read this passage, I ask myself, “Who is my Egypt?” I’d really prefer to think that I trust completely in Christ and never falter from believing that He has my back. I prefer to think that I never dream longingly of “Egypt,” but then I remember I have a credit card.
Fortunately, over the years, I’ve learned to use that card somewhat responsibly. I generally get it out only for hotel reservations and to purchase things online, and I try to make sure I pay it off immediately. However, even this doesn’t stop me from counting down the days until payday from time to time.
It seems that no matter how hard I try to trust only in Christ, I find myself running to Egypt for help every now and then. When the engine blows in the car or the house needs something unexpectedly. Or worse yet, when I just want to have some fun and don’t plan for it properly, or I neglect to consult my heavenly Father to see if it is something He thinks I should do. In each of these situations, I find myself planning a metaphorical vacation in Egypt.
Egypt . . . it’s that place that looks safe when life’s circumstances make you feel like you want to run away. It’s the other side of the fence where the grass is so much greener. Egypt is the land that will lend you money when you’re running low, whether you can afford to pay it back or not. It’s the food that brings you comfort as well as pounds and inches. For some people Egypt is in a bottle and for others it’s a friend from a former life. Egypt is that thing that boasts of being able to give us something better, bigger and more beautiful, but produces pain, poverty and empty promises. Egypt often gives quick relief with long lasting bitter consequences.
As Christians, it’s vital we are aware of Egypt. So often it looks harmless. Why wouldn’t we go there for at least a little vacation? But every time we put our trust in something other than Jesus Christ, we find ourselves in danger of “falling” and “perishing” with Egypt.
Yes, we need to be aware of the “Egypts” in our life. We need to know which direction it lies so we can avoid going there. We must learn to recognize Egyptians and say “no thanks” to her horsemen, even when it looks like it would make the journey so much easier to just take a short ride. And we need to remember to always look to the “Holy One of Israel” and never go to Egypt for “vacation.”
How Often Do You Lead Devotions for Your Group or Meeting?
© 2009 Lynne Modranski