More Devotions From the New Testament
Skipping your daily devotions is like skipping a meal
I know . . . I skip breakfast sometimes, too. I get busy, and I need to get out the door, so breakfast has to wait . . . until lunch! But there's something I've learned over the years. Even when I don't have time to eat, I make time to take in a little scripture. Even if it's just a verse or two, I want to spend some time meditating on God's Word. And many times it's helpful to have an insight from another Christian as I read.
Below you'll find five devotions inspired by the New Testament. They contain little nuggets that Jesus has given me as I read His Word and meditate on His truth. And I pray the truth of each will give you something to think about throughout your day, something to help you focus on Christ and just how much He cares for you.
After you finish this page, check out the references to more than 20 other pages with similar musings. And if you really enjoy them look for the link to register to get devotions like these in your inbox a couple of times each month.
How Much Will You Give?
Paul is willing to do something I am not: give up his relationship with Christ if it means his fellow Israelites could know Jesus. Since the former cannot possibly bring about the latter, it is a moot point, a hollow wish.
Or is it?
Even though it is an impossibility, I need to ask myself, do I care about anyone else's salvation deeply enough to be willing to give up my spot in the Kingdom? I have to "speak the truth in Christ," as Paul would say. I don't think I'm ready to go that far.
Don't get me wrong. One of my life's greatest rewards is seeing folks come to and grow in Christ. But I think sometimes my attitude can take on that of verses 10-18: if someone doesn't come to Christ, it's not my fault. Paul's words here remind me that we are all "Children of the Promise." And just as some Jews in Paul's day chose to abandon that promise, people of our day will also choose that option. Only God knows who those are. When I attempt to figure out who it is that will choose life and who will choose death, I begin to play God.
Paul makes it clear, some will not come to Christ. We don't understand why God chose to show us His mercy. We should stand in awe that God did, indeed, choose us. Our hearts should be overflowing with gratitude that we have received God's mercy. When we see all of the evil in the world, we should be humbled and thankful that we have been chosen to inherit God's riches.
Meanwhile, because we've no idea whom God has chosen, we should do our best to take on the attitude of Paul: a deep, heartfelt love and concern for the salvation of our friends, our family, co-workers and people we pass on the streets. The love of Christ within us has the power and strength to love others through us. It has the capacity to love everyone, every single person in our race . . . the human race.
- Devotions to Inspire Your Week
Everyone needs some inspiration in their week. These scripture based devotional readings are designed to do just that. You will eventually find 10 devotions here to help you stay close to Christ.
- Devotional Readings from the New Testament
The Bible provides an unlimited number of lessons. These devotional readings use New Testament passages to inspire us.
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.
The Parable of the Talents
I've been thinking a lot about this parable lately. It was part of my daily readings about a week ago and now I can't get it off my mind. I generally hear it taught as a reminder to us that we each have gifts (talents), some have more than others, but if we don't use them, we could lose them, and if we are faithful in using them to serve we may actually be given even more abilities.
As I read the parable this time, I thought about my finances. After all, Jesus was really talking about money in this story. We want God to help us with our expenses. We hear sermons, and even read some verses from scripture, that lead us to believe that if we give enough, God will pour out material blessings on us. And while those verses are obviously true, perhaps we need to tie them in with this parable and ask ourselves if we've been faithful with the little God has given us before we expect more. Not simply tithing, but asking God's opinion in every aspect of our spending and investing.
And today, this passage came to my mind once again. To me and others like me, there is something even more valuable than money. You see, if I work hard and watch my spending and investing, I can make more money; however, no matter what I do, I only get 24 hours a day. When I waste a dollar, I can work a bit extra at my part time job to make it up. When I waste an hour, it's gone forever.
Today as I contemplated my schedule and wondered how in the world I would get everything done, I thought about this parable again. Perhaps what seems to be a lack of time in my world is really me "burying" the time God has given me instead of investing it. When I take on a project, do I really go to prayer to be sure it's a project God has called me to, or am I "burying" the time He's given me by taking on more than He's called me to? If I invest every hour properly, will it seem as though my Savior is giving me more time? I don't have any answers to these questions, it's merely a concept I haven't considered before, but one that intrigues me and pushes me toward being even more conscientious of the way I spend or invest my time, because I want to be the one who "has" who "will be given more!
Faith in the Fog
Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see.
In the fall of 2004 or 2005 God made this scripture more clear to me than I could have ever imagined. I was out and about delivering products from a home party I'd had, and my last delivery was out in the country about 15 miles from home and about a mile from the nearest highway. No streetlights, no lines on the road, just a chip and seal pavement barely two cars wide, and that's when the fog settled in.
This was not your average fog. No, it was the thickest fog I've ever been through in my entire life. I couldn't see the road in front of me. My only guides as I drove down the road were the weeds along the sides. Fortunately, they were very tall, and I simply moved painfully slow and kept my lights inches away from them. I was terrified. So, of course I prayed.
I am of the opinion that God actually IS almighty and can do anything. I believe Jesus when he says, "Ask for anything in my name . . ." So as I drove I prayed. And as I prayed, I cried. I asked God to lift the fog. In fact I begged Him to allow me to be able to see. I praised Him because I knew that He was able, and I pleaded for His protection . . . and a miracle. Considering I had at least a mile to drive, and I was moving at less than five miles per hour, I had a lot of time to pray.
The longer I drove, the more I wondered why God refused to answer my prayer. You see, I was and am still sure that God could, had the power, to lift that fog. I believed my heavenly Father was and is in the business of doing the extraordinary. In fact, as I think about that day, I believe I used that exact phrase in my prayer.
So, after about a half mile (and at least 15 minutes), I began to wonder about my faith. I'd heard a lot of preachers teach how our lack of faith can keep our prayers from being answered. So, since I was sure God COULD lift this terrible fog, and He wasn't, despite my desperate cries, I deduced the problem must be my lack of faith. So, my prayer changed. I began to plead with Christ to increase my faith, to help me see where my faith was lacking. And as I did, I heard God.
Now, when I hear God, it's generally not an audible voice. It's usually more like a feeling I have, a thought pops into my head, and I know it's not something I'd have thought of on my own. And this time the thought was, "It takes more faith to trust me as you drive through the fog, than it does to have me lift the fog."
I grew very quiet in my spirit. I had wanted God to do the miraculous, the extraordinary, the marvelous. And I still believe that He does work in that way; however, in this case, God wanted to work to change me instead of my circumstances.
It's not easy when God decides to make us into better people.
It's not easy when God decides to make us into better people. But it's not easy on the clay when the potter finds a mar and has to work it out. That lesson has stayed with me and helped me through bigger trials than a dense fog. When my husband's sister was laying in bed, breathing her last because of cancer, I had to remember that it takes more faith to believe that God is in control even when we're hurting than it does to have her healed. When I felt as though my heart was being ripped out from hurt that someone I cared about caused, I was reminded it takes more faith to stay true to the Savior than it does to change the heart of another person.
Faith is being sure of what I hope for. I am sure that God has bigger and better things in store for me than I can possibly imagine. It may not come on my timetable, (Sarah had to wait at least 15 years for the promise of a son to come true) but God's promises will come. I hope for them and have faith God will come through.
Faith is being certain of what I do not see. I did not see the road, but I became certain God would get me home without incident. I do not always see good, but I am certain God meant it when He said He works all things for my good. I do not see God, but I am certain He is moving in my life.
It takes no faith to walk where you can see. So, the next time you feel as though you are blindfolded in life, keep trusting that God will not let you fall or stray off the path. It's OK, take my word for it, He can get you home even when you're in a very thick fog.
Sorry I'm Late
2 Peter 3:3-9
Do you ever feel like you're always late? Or are you one of those punctual, always on time people? Do people worry when you're five minutes late or joke when you're five minutes early. Sometimes it seems like my motto in life is "better late than never." It seems I'm quite often late or perhaps in our politically correct world, I could call it "time management disabled." In fact, my girls tell stories of my tardiness, sometimes I was so late they thought I forgot them. (Although I only truly forgot one time!)
Thinking about tardiness caused me to think of this scripture from 2 Peter. Peter knew that a time would come when people would think that God was slow, forgot about them or wasn't coming at all. In fact, 2000 years ago folks were already beginning to think God was running behind schedule. But Peter wrote these words to reassure us that God is not late, slow, tardy or forgetful. No, instead God is hopeful.
When I'm late, I hope no one ever gives up on me. I've generally tried to squeeze too much into too short a period of time, slept in or wasn't watching the clock close enough. But what about God? Do we give up on Him? Do we think He's decided not to return like He promised? And even more relevant, when we pray, and the answer doesn't come immediately, do we run ahead or try to fix it ourselves?
I hate to admit it, but I'm terribly guilty of having fallen into the "gotta fix-it" syndrome. I want immediate answers and instantaneous results. So there are moments when I have a difficult time waiting for God. On so many occasions it seems as though God is moving much slower than I think He should.
Fortunately though, God's timing is perfect. When we think God is slow, He's merely waiting on the perfect time to respond. On those days when it seems like our Heavenly Father has forgotten us, He's often being patient with us as we learn the lesson He's been trying to teach. Perhaps you've been praying for your children or your spouse, your church or your friends and you're wondering if God has heard. 1 John 5:14 assures us that if we ask according to His will, God hears us and will answer that prayer.
As you wait on the Creator of the Universe in the next week or so, be reminded that God is not slow. He's not sleeping or running late. God is waiting, hopefully waiting for the perfect time because He knows what's best and has the best in mind for us.
© 2015 Lynne Modranski