More Devotions to Inspire Your Day
Reflections on Scripture
Sometimes it's difficult to make time for prayer and Bible Study, but the truth is these two things are as vital to Christian growth as food and water are to our physical well being. Often short devotion readings can help us as we reflect on scripture and use it to empower our lives. Hopefully, these few "aha" moments will inspire you as you grow to become all that Christ has created you to be.
Devotions you'll find below
- A Thousand Generations
- Making it Personal
- Flexing My Muscles
- More than You can Ask or Imagine
- What Kind of Race are You Running?
- How Religious Are You?
A Thousand Generations
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God;
he is the faithful God,
keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations
of those who love him and keep his commandments.
Every now and then I start feeling a bit sorry for myself. I wonder if what I do has any impact on anyone. This feeling comes most often when someone seems to fall off the face of the earth after I feel like I’ve invested a lot of my time trying to mentor and encourage. As you can see the biggest problem in my pity party is the amount of “I”, “me” and “my” involved.
Recently when I’ve read that verse from Deuteronomy I’ve praised God that my grandchildren and future generations have a little bonus of a chance in knowing Jesus because of my faith. I thank Him for the faith of my grandparents and great grandparents. And as I’ve done genealogy and found several ancestors who were persecuted, killed or came to America for their faith, I’ve been tremendously grateful for them and how their faith made this verse come alive in my life.
Today as I was praying, wondering if my witness is really making a difference, God brought faint images of people who I’ve been privileged to be a part of their faith journey through the years. Face after face came to mind. It wasn’t long before I began to catch glimpses of the faces of their children, the faces of young people who I can tell are on track to live a life of abundance with Christ. And then God reminded me of Deuteronomy 7:9 and the “thousand generations.”
I have always taken that verse, and the others like it in scripture, to mean my immediate family. I hold on to it as I pray for my grandchildren and those not yet born. But today, I believe God showed me that as we minister and share our witness, that “thousand generations” can extend to other families. If Paul called Timothy his “true son in the faith,” then those whom we’ve helped birth a life full of love for Christ are indeed our children. And for every life we touch today, we may be helping to change and form thousands of lives in the future.
That thought brought me encouragement this morning. It gave me hope that even when someone chooses to “waste my time,” so to speak, (and I do not believe that an investment in someone created in the image of God is ever a waste of time) there is the potential for a thousand generations of changed lives in the one sitting in the next chair who chooses to accept keep the covenant of love poured out on us by a Savior who is faithful.
Making it Personal
He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters;
the storm subsided, and all was calm.
25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.
In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this?
He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”
I’ve always wondered about this verse. I know it’s early in Jesus’ ministry and the apostles hadn’t been with that long, but seriously! They’d seen the centurion’s servant healed and the widow’s son raised from the dead. Four of them had seen a catch of fish big enough to make them leave their boats behind, and some of them had to have been there when the man with leprosy was healed. Surely they’d at least HEARD about the paralyzed man walking! But it’s not until their own lives are in danger that they finally start to believe this guy is more than just simple carpenter walking with God.
It made me consider what it takes for humans today to really understand the “WHO” of Jesus. After walking with Christ for all of these years, seeing all that He has done and experiencing the blessings He has poured out on me, has the weight of who Christ is really sunken in? When we see our Messiah work in ways that mystify us, are we in awe of His graciousness or His ability?
I’m beginning to think the reason the twelve were more amazed by his ability rather than his graciousness was that for the first time the miracle was personal. They feared for their lives in that small boat on a stormy sea, and Jesus’ power touched them personally. I believe when we allow any of Jesus’ blessings to become truly personal, our amazement at them turns from “Who is this?” to “Who am I that He would grant me this?” We aren’t surprised at His ability; we are instead in awe that He counted us worthy.
As I toss that thought around my head, my grandmother’s faith comes to mind. She had a humble, yet extraordinarily large faith. I believe it was because she had learned to take every blessing personally. I can’t know whether she had grown to that early in life or it came from the fact she witnessed the birth of all four of her grandchildren many years after they told her she would die of Lupus. The Christ who had calmed the winds and the wave gave her extra years on earth, and by the time the Lupus took her, just after I was able to show her my driver’s license, faith and the love of Jesus Christ leaked out of her; so much so that it probably caused amazement among those who knew her story.
I try to take every blessing that my Savior gives me in complete awe of his graciousness. I don’t want to ever be surprised at his ability to do more than I can ask or imagine, only that He would occasionally count me worthy to be a part of such things.
Flexing my Muscles
Knowledge puffs up while love builds up.
1 Corinthians 8:1
That was the verse that stuck out to me in my Bible reading this morning. So much so that I felt the need to share the picture that came into my head as I read.
First you need to know that I have a son-in-law that lifts weights. He’s not necessarily a body builder, but he’s tall, and in addition to lifting, he has a job requires physical strength. So he has some pretty serious biceps. As I read that verse from First Corinthians, I pictured my 5’2” stature in those inflatable “water wings” standing next to my son-in-law. (OK, you can quit laughing now! ;-)
We need knowledge, something to keep us afloat. However, knowledge all by itself is like the water wings. We can put a shirt over it and make people thing we have big muscles, but in truth, we’re just full of air. And have you ever tried to hug a kid with water wings on? Those wings get in the way! Just like knowledge. Relying too much on knowledge can get in the way of sharing the love of Christ.
Gaining knowledge for the sake of knowledge can often produce arrogance, and is generally useless. For instance, I know how to change a tire, I understand every single step and all the logistics of how to take the bolts off and put them back on. But since my muscles are like water wings, I can’t do it. All of my knowledge is useless without having my muscles built up. And I’m confident that someone with muscles would be uninterested and frustrated at my knowledge if I tried to use my knowledge to “help” change the tire.
Love on the other hand, is like my son-in-law’s muscles. It can carry burdens for others much further than those without the spiritual muscle of love. And much like my son-in-law can dig, carry and work much harder and longer than I can, love has the muscle, the power, to keep going much longer than knowledge. When he is swimming, knowledge will tell him when to come up for air, but it’s the muscles he’s built up that will allow him to be active in the pool for hours after I’m finished.
Paul tells us in First Corinthians 12 that knowledge is a good thing. It’s in the list of spiritual gifts. However, it’s in chapter 13 that he reminds us that even knowledge without the muscle of love is useless, worthless and worst of all, annoying. So, go ahead and flex your spiritual muscles today. You can never have too much love!
Five More Devotions
- Devotional Readings from the New Testament
The Bible provides an unlimited number of lessons. These devotional readings use New Testament passages to inspire us.
More Than I Can Ask or Imagine
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
I love this benediction from Paul! The God who loves me with an unending love has the capability to more than I can ask or even imagine, and not just more, more beyond what I can measure. That’s the thought that came to mind when my Tuesday morning Bible Study group was exploring Daniel 3, the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace.
I can just picture them standing there in front of the king, going from being some of the most respected wise men of the land to being tied up and threatened for their faith. And I can’t help but wonder . . . when they were standing there in front of King Nebuchadnezzar, did they have ideas about how God might rescue them from the fire? I wonder that because if I’m honest, that’s what I do. Whenever I’m in a tough spot and start asking my Father to rescue me, I have images of the different ways He could give me assistance. Sometimes, when I forget this verse from Ephesians, I will even include my “suggestions” in my prayer, as if God needed my ideas to get me out of a bind that I probably put myself in!
Daniel’s friends didn’t seem to be in a panic when they got called out for not bowing to the king’s statue, but I’m guessing their human nature had some creative approaches to their imminent rescue. They might have imagined someone reminding Nebuchadnezzar that Daniel had told the king his dream with the power of the God that this trio worshipped. Or perhaps the Creator of the universe would create a nice little diversion and give them time to escape. But did walking around in a fire so hot it killed the guys who threw them in ever cross their mind? In their wildest dreams could they have possibly envisioned the One who looked like the “Son of a God” strolling in the heat with them? I think the reason we have so many details about what they were wearing is so we understand what went into God keeping them safe in the fire. All those clothes and not one little singe. How could these three men of God have pictured this kind of amazing rescue?
The whole thing reminds me to keep my prayers simple unless I have a definite word from God. When I need rescuing, I just need to say, “Father, please rescue me,” and let Him come up with the ideas. There are those occasions when our Heavenly Father tells us ahead of time exactly what He plans to do, much like Elijah on the mountain with the prophets of Baal. During those times, our prayers should be big and specific. But I have discovered that most of the time I am more like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Even though I’m confident God is going to come through, I have no idea how He is going to do it. I only know it will be “immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine.”
What Kind of Race are you Running?
You were running a good race.
Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?
As I read this passage again this morning, I thought about my daughter’s latest challenge. She is really into fitness. In fact she gets up every morning at 5 a.m. so she can workout for at least thirty minutes before her two wee ones get up. She’s done several 5K’s, a couple of color runs and all kinds of walks. She always races to win, and even if she doesn’t come in first, whenever she beats her best time, she considers it a victory.
This past summer, she entered her first “Tough Mudder.” While a “Mudder” is sort of a race, it’s more of an obstacle course. In fact, you might even call it a torture/endurance race. From what I understand, you run a mile and then go through some kind of challenge then repeat the process about seven times. Most of the challenges require some sort of upper body strength or a have a “fear factor” element (like running through tiny electrically charged wires). None of it sounded appealing to me, and my daughter’s goal was not to finish first, but to finish with her team.
Galatians reminded me of these two very different kinds of “races.” Paul encourages the Galatians by telling them they began their walk with Christ by “running a good race.” Unfortunately, much like the 21st Century, there were plenty of people trying to give the Galatian followers a list of rules they needed to keep to be Christians. As I read Paul’s warning, I pictured us running the race. We start out running a 5K, free to be the person Christ created us to be, but then we start listening to those rule followers, take a detour and make it a Tough Mudder. Later in these few verses Paul tells his readers to “walk in the Spirit.” When we allow humanity’s rules to define our Christian walk instead of the Spirit, it’s as if we’ve decided to take on the Tough Mudder obstacles instead of staying the course of the race.
Like a 5K, our race still may have rough spots. There’s an annual race not far from me that includes a three and a half mile hill, giving the runners a five hundred foot incline. It’s not an obstacle; it’s just part of the race. It’s one of the most difficult legs of that local half marathon. But just like real life, in order to finish the race, the runner has to face the challenging parts too.
But because life has enough challenges of its own, things that feel like that three and a half mile hill, it’s important to continue with the Spirit and avoid the “obstacles,” the list of do’s and don’ts that the legalists throw at us. Paul does add the warning that our freedom in the Spirit should never be used as an opportunity to go back to our old life or hurt others. But his main point is that Jesus died so we can be free!
As we mature in the faith, it’s easy to get caught up in what we “have” to do, the obligations and rituals. But all of those have tos “abolish the work of Christ on the cross.” They steal our joy and take our freedom. Let’s start this New Year right! It’s time to run the race without the burdens, without the chains. We can walk in the Spirit and live in the freedom that Christ came to give.
How Religious Are You?
22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said:
“People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.
As a Christian, I feel like the statement of Paul to the people of Athens in Acts 17 might be the one I dread hearing someone say about me the most. I don’t want to be religious. I lived religiously for many years. I was taught to live religiously. I knew all the good things that a good girl should do. I didn’t play cards or wear pants to church. My vocabulary was impeccable. I would not have thought of touching a cigarette or alcohol, and missing a worship service, no matter what day of the week it was on, was out of the question. However, if you look at my list, it lacks the number one quality of a Christian, any mention of Jesus. I could have been called a “goody-two-shoes,” but all of those rules did not qualify me to be called a follower of Jesus Christ.
I recently read a short article by Jason Carlson, who summed up my reluctance to be called religious. He said,
“Christianity is unique among the faiths of the world because Christianity is actually not a religion! I say this because religions are human attempts to make ourselves right with God . . . Christianity is not a religion. Christianity is about God entering human history to graciously save us through His Son Jesus Christ.” (“Apologetics Bible for Students” by Holman Bible Publishers Page 1260)
Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship.
Unfortunately, those of us who’ve been in church for a while tend to make it a religion from time to time. We don’t mean to. Most of us don’t even want to, but there are standards we need to hold ourselves to if we truly love Jesus. In John 14, Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey me.” When we aren’t careful, our list of “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways” becomes a list of do’s and don’ts, the rules of a religion.
Paul wasn’t necessarily giving the people of Athens a compliment or a criticism. They had so many statues and monuments to different gods and goddesses, Paul used their fascination with “religion” to get their attention, to show them that there was another way to God that they hadn’t considered yet. It’s a tactic Christians today probably need to use more often. I hear and see people trying to get brownie points with God all the time. They are confident that one more good deed will be enough to get them to heaven. We are so blessed to be able to share the good news that Christianity isn’t a religion. We don’t have to do good deeds to get to heaven. Salvation is a free gift. I pray that in the midst of serving Christ out of love and gratitude for the sacrifice He made on my behalf on the cross, I never allow my Christianity to become religious.
- Short Readings to Inspire Your Walk with Christ
In order to truly grow in Christ, we must stay in His Word and consider how it applies personally. Here are a few readings to help with just that!