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Short Readings to Move You Closer to Christ
Take Christ with You Wherever You Go
As we walk through life, we often need assistance finding the right path or staying on the course that's been set for us. Daily Bible Reading and devotions can be a tremendous source of help in making sure we keep Christ beside us on the journey.
Below you'll find five devotional readings designed to help Christians as they work toward becoming everything our Heavenly Father has created them to be. You'll also find links to at least another dozen pages with more readings to inspire and motivate you to go further in your relationship with Jesus.
Scroll Down to Find These Short Readings:
- Oh, to Be Like Moses
- The LOOOONNNNNGGG Book of Leviticus (and the lessons I've learned)
- Jesus is the Way
- Packed Up and Ready to Go
- Great Expectations
Plus Links to Many More!
Oh, To Be Like Moses
Inspired by Numbers 1-17
I've been reading Numbers lately. The more I read, the more I wish I had the faith of Moses. He was more than just the leader of the people of Israel! This was a man that God talked to face to face. No fleece, no signs, just a wonderful two way conversation. I have been blessed to hear the voice of God, but only once or twice in my life! I wish God's direction was as clear to me as it was to Moses.
Not only that, but when the Israelite community sinned, God planned to destroy all of them and start over with just Moses and his family. Oh to be the kind of person that my heavenly Father would consider faithful enough to start over with. Not that I want the Almighty to destroy everyone around me, but Moses must have been pretty faithful for the Creator of the Universe to choose him above all of the other Israelites to start again from scratch. To toss aside nearly 600 years and close to 10 generations of building a nation had to be a big deal. There were more than 600,000 MEN in the Israelite community, a group of people that started six centuries earlier with one man and his only son. Abraham and Isaac started it all, and God was willing to chuck it all because the children of Jacob were so rebellious.
When the world gets rebellious, I wonder, "Am I faithful enough to God that He'd be willing to start over with me?" Or am I more like the crowd? Does it seem as if I'm constantly complaining and grumbling about my circumstances? I'm free, but am I willing to live like I'm free, or do I want to return to the comfort of slavery? When the current day to day gets a little tough, it's easy to look at the "good old days," forget about the pain and anguish those days caused, and begin to grumble.
Life isn't easy. It wasn't easy for the Israelites in the desert, and it isn't easy for us in our comfortable homes. However, if we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, if we are living for Him, then, like the Israelites, we are free. We are no longer slaves to "Egypt." We are free to live and breath and move any way we wish. I just have to remind myself that I can choose to be free like the Israelite community, grumbling, complaining and pretty much miserable in my freedom, or I can choose to be like Moses, one who speaks to God face to face, hears His voice and God chooses to use to start all over again.
The Looonnnnnnggg Book of Leviticus
and the lesson I learned
Lately, I've been reading Leviticus. I'll be perfectly honest, it's not the most exciting book in the Bible. God seems to repeat Himself a lot in this book of law, and if we stop and think about it, we discover it's really kind of gory. There's a lot of blood sprinkled all over the Holy things. The priests rip birds in two with their bare hands, and oil is poured on the bread and the priests. Seems a bit messy and makes me very glad I'm a follower of God in the 21st Century instead of 2000 years before Christ.
Often when I read Leviticus, I wonder what benefit I can receive from reviewing the book at least once a year. And every time I allow myself to consider that question, I receive a different answer. Obviously, there are a lot of reasons that God sends us the message of Leviticus.
Today as I read, I thought about how these sacrifices were engrained into the Jewish lifestyle. There were sacrifices scheduled for every year and every day. These sacrifices were expected of every person in Israel, regardless of their politics or economic status. They were such a part of the everyday life of an Israelite, it made me contemplate how these people, chosen by God, could have fallen so far away from Him in a matter of 500 years. My guess is that at some point along the way someone forgot to pass along all the details of the past. People no longer appreciated the goodness of the Father. Some, who still sacrificed, probably just went through the motions, and others gave up the practice altogether.
This time as I read through this long book, I believe God wanted me to see that even with the constant reminder of animals being slaughtered at the temple and the ongoing stench of the sacrifices themselves, it was difficult for these, the chosen of God, to remember the works and goodness of the Creator. Obviously, parents didn't pass on to their children the news of a loving Redeemer. The sacrifices, for those who continued to bring them to the temple, became mundane and repetitious.
Sadly, today's church is too much like these Israelites. God pours out His blessings, reveals himself in the beauty of nature and sends subtle evidence of His love every day. Much like the Israelites at the time of the exile and before, most of us inside the church are more interested in what we can "do" to earn God's favor than we are in changing our hearts and allowing His Holy Spirit to lead. Like the Israelites, we take for granted God's goodness, we hurry about our day and do our "duty" by meeting with the congregation once or twice a week. Our weekly meetings are usually called "worship" services, but often they do more to make us feel good about our "sacrifice" than bring glory to the Omnipotent Creator of the Universe.
Consider your congregation; are your musicians and vocalists there for show or is their passion drawing others closer to Christ? Do you hear excitement when your liturgies are read, or are the sounds more like a drone as the congregation puts in time? Does your congregation excitedly greet newcomers hoping to help someone else meet Jesus Christ, or do they fret that the newbies might cause change?
The book of Leviticus reminds me that it's up to ME to help the next generation discover the wonder, majesty and beauty of Jesus Christ. The repetition of the commands for the sacrifices tells me that I need to repeat the story of Christ's sacrifice over and over. The feasts and festivals designed to commemorate the deliverance God gave the people of Israel give me incentive to never miss one celebration that commemorates Christ's birth, death, resurrection and outpouring. My Father's commands to give myself, my co-workers and even the land a Sabbath every time I reach a "seven" of any kind teach me the importance of taking time to refresh my physical body and setting aside time to devote to the worship of His Son, Jesus Christ.
What legacy of worship and dedication to Jesus are we leaving for the next generation? Are we teaching our children and the world around us the excitement and beauty of following our Sovereign Lord, or are we, by our actions, telling these same folks that worship is archaic and boring? The people of Moses time were given this same choice. When Joshua took over command of the people of Israel, he allowed them to choose again. David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah and more, right up to and beyond the time of Jesus and the apostles, all these leaders gave the people they led the opportunity to choose to devote their entire lives to serve our Heavenly Father, and today we are given the same choice. We can choose to be like much of Israel, a group of followers living by the rules, going through the motions, tired and worn-out or we can choose to live our lives completely sold out for Christ, living in such a way as to attract the next generation to live the same, reaping the benefits of knowing the fullness of the Father, the Love of the Son and the Power of the Holy Spirit. Which do you choose?
Jesus is the Way
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 14:6 is one of those verses those of us who've been in the church for a while know by heart. If you grew up in the church, it may be one of the first you ever learned. We know it so well that we often take it for granted. We assume that everyone knows this simple truth. And yet, despite our knowledge, we sometimes fall into the trap of "must do."
There is a lot to be done in a church. And if you are a growing, productive congregation, the Pastor can't do it all. To really be effective in the Kingdom, a body of Christ must always be moving and doing. The problem lies in the fact that often those who "move" and "do" are the same who "moved" and "did" the last time and the time before. We love our church, we want to see people come to the Kingdom, and in order for that to happen, things must get done.
But what happens when the "moving" and "doing" becomes the goal? It's easy for eager volunteers and leaders in the church to get caught up in all that needs done. And even if they don't believe those activities are "the way," to someone on the outside looking in, and maybe even when God looks at all the hustle and bustle, it may appear as though we believe the work is what is needed for salvation.
It's important that we review our lives often to be sure our priorities still reflect John 3:16 "Whosoever believes in me [Jesus] will not perish but have everlasting life." We need to look at our daily schedule and make sure our "to do" list looks like we are convinced that "man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ." (Galatians 2:16)
It's been an age old problem. Paul felt a need to remind the Ephesians that "it is by grace we are saved, through faith . . . not by works." (Ephesians 2:8-9). If we search scripture, we'll see he had to explain this to the Romans as well as Titus and Timothy. Over and over again, Paul, Peter, John and others explained to the early church that our works are a result of our salvation, not a means to it.
Jesus is the Way. He's the only way, there is no other. He has opened the door to the Father and poured out on us the gift of His Holy Spirit. As a leader in the body of Christ, it's probably one of those spiritual truths you've known for quite some time. But as one who works in the church, it's one we must remind ourselves of often.
If you find yourself growing weary in your work for Christ, perhaps it's time to step back a bit, maybe God is opening the door for a different ministry for you. It could be that you need to recruit help in your task or you may have over-committed yourself. Are you doing too much? Or perhaps you need to just ask yourself this simple question, "Have I begun to think this job IS the way, or do I do this because I love 'The Way'?"
Packed Up and Ready to Go
Sometimes I feel as though these words God spoke to Abraham are words God spoke to me years ago. Steve and I were married for just 3 years when he decided to join the Air Force. For the next three and a half years, I lived more than 8 hours from my parents and siblings.
I grew up in a very close family. On my mom's side, I still keep up with my 2nd and 3rd cousins. In fact we still celebrate Thanksgiving together every year. My grandmother was one of three girls, and together the three of them only had five children. So, five generations later, with four of those represented at family get-togethers, we only have about 60 including spouses, and my siblings and I bring 34 of those! So, moving was difficult, but we needed work, and the Air Force was a paycheck.
After just one term, we returned to our home in the hills; however, it was only about five years later that Steve felt called into ministry. We fought it for a while. We really enjoyed being back home with our families. Finally, we packed everything we owned into a moving van and headed to Southern Ohio. Only a couple of hours from the family now, we didn't feel quite so isolated.
During those years on an Air Force Base, I couldn't imagine being like Abraham. The Lord called, and He just picked up and moved. One wife, one nephew and some servants, and he's off! Abraham didn't have the luxury I did of knowing where he was going before he left. No, God told him to go where I will show you, and Abraham went. Although our moving wasn't as adventurous as Abraham's, and we fought it a bit, I did learn a few valuable lessons during those years.
One of the most important things I learned was the art of contentment. I spent much of our military life miserable. I had a beautiful family and a loving husband, but I was so discontent. I was sure there was something I could add to my life to make it better. After several "additions" didn't change the internal turmoil I was feeling, I became confident I just needed to get back "home." The feelings I had must stem from missing my family, I thought. However, the relocation of my household furnishings didn't change my longing for more. If I hadn't been completed committed to making our marriage work during those couple of years, I'm sure I'd have left, but in my mind that was never an option.
About six months after we returned to Ohio, I finally began to understand my problem. The journey to my realization is another wonderful story, but the abridged version is this: When I learned to make Christ and His love and grace the central part of my life, I found contentment, and as I began to allow His Spirit to be in control of my life, I found real joy. Five years later, when our roving began again, this time in ministry, I had no problem packing up and going. We moved four times in the next ten years. Each place had blessings and lessons, and I'd have missed them if I hadn't discovered what I'm guessing Abraham always knew. As long as you are focused on your Creator, home is wherever He's called you.
How do you use devotion readings?
Which of these best describes how you'll use the devotions you find here?
Luke 12:22-34 or Matthew 6:25-34
This morning I was considering life. I feel so blessed. My life is full and rich, but as I considered it, I wondered how I arrived at this place in my life. We aren't wealthy by any stretch of the imagination. We do own two vehicles, one will be 20 years old very soon and the other is not far from its decade mark. We live in a huge beautiful, but unfinished, home that we don't own, and own a small place that's missing some significant structure (like parts of the floor, a few walls and some siding).
In my pondering I quickly concluded that much of my contentment in life comes from my lack of any expectations from it. I've learned that life on this earth is completely unpredictable. We humans love science. You might think you don't, but the truth is, we all do! We like experiments that have the same results over and over. The fact that when you heat an egg it becomes a wonderful breakfast food every single time is a comforting phenomenon, and we like those predictable aspects of our day.
However, if you stop and think about it, life in general is not so calculable. Just when we think we might have it figured out, life throws a wrench in the mix. I don't know where we got the idea that we should be able to anticipate life. The Bible doesn't paint the picture of a forecastable future. Abraham didn't know where his journey would lead him, and he was a bit surprised when that baby came along at age 100. Jonah certainly didn't expect that big fish, and no one thought David would be king. Jeremiah wasn't thrilled when that muddy well made its way into his day, and Peter was as shocked as anyone when he denied his best friend three times in one evening.
My life is unpredictable and out of my control. For some that phrase would strike terror, but for me it brings contentment. Jesus said, "Don't worry about your life. Life is more than food and what you will wear." Then he shared a phrase that answers the question of "What do I do then?" Our Savior said, "Just seek me and my Father. Look for us in everything. Try to find the way to know us more. When you do that, everything you need, all of the most important things to survive on this earth will be handed to you." That is, of course, my very loose paraphrase of Matthew 6:33 and Luke 12:31, however, it's one of the greatest truths in scripture.
My life is content because I expect nothing from it. I have no expectations regarding this day to day breathing and walking. When I do, I am nearly always disappointed. Life is disappointing. This earth lets me down and steals my hope and my joy. Every time I think I have it figured out, every time I start "expecting" something from life, I'm thrown a curve, and if I allow it, I can be thrown into a huge depression. That's because, as Peter said, this earth is not my home. (I Peter 2:10-12)
Alternately, when I "seek first the kingdom of God," life is full of joyful surprises. I expect nothing, yet blessings seem to fall on me. They aren't always monumental blessings like some would expect. Often it's just the joy of having all of my family in my house at one time.
I believe that passage found in both Luke and Matthew is the beginning of the secret to the abundant life Christ promised in John 10:10. I believe that living every moment of life without worry regarding what the future holds or what my life will become has given me more freedom than I ever imagined possible. And I believe that the more I "seek" Jesus Christ, the more I abide in His love and His Word, the more I "wait" on Him, the more "all those things" and the feeling of supreme blessedness are poured out all over me!
Even More Devotions for Your Day
- Devotions for Special Seasons and Holidays
If you need devotions for other holidays, check out this page! Valentine's Day, Thanksgiving and more. Every holiday is an opportunity for us to take a step back and focus on our Savior.
- Devotions for Busy Moms
Mom, you deserve a break! Moms work hard every day. To be the best mom ever, it's important to take time to refresh and renew. Creating a quiet time with Jesus each morning can be a great way to get that renewal!
© 2014 Lynne Modranski