Sunday Devotional ~ Go and Sin No More

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:11)

When we have forgiveness of our sins, Jesus tells us to sin no more. We are to live a life that is free from sin, but it is not free from temptation. Each day of our lives we struggle against the temptation to be complacent, the temptation to be comfortable, and the temptation to be unsatisfied. But in all of these things, there is a simple cure.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8)

We are double-minded when we put the temptations of our own comfort before or equal to that which God asks us to do. If we'd rather relax with Netflix after working a long hard day instead of spending time in meditation with God, we're looking for our own comfort instead of furthering God's kingdom in a way we know we're supposed to do. The only thing that keeps us from our sins is to draw nearer to God through prayer, studying His word, and worship.

As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalms 103:12)

The east and the west never touch each other. They never see each other. God not only removed us from our past transgressions, but also our present and future ones. He wants us to draw near to Him because the closer we are to God, the further we are from our sin. Conversely, the closer we are to our sin, the further we will feel we are from God as well.

Today my prayer is that we will draw near to God in every way. That we will worship even when we're tired... that we will step forward in faith even when we're complacent right where we are... that we will allow God to be our satisfaction when we feel unsatisfied. Lord help us to draw near to you today!

Sunday Devotional - Dealing with Discontentment

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. 
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, 
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
(Philippians 4:12)

Most of us know what it's like to be in need. But have we ever known what it's like to have plenty? We rarely have enough money, enough food, enough love in our lives to be satisfied and content. We're always striving, looking for the next big break, the next thing that will thrill us, the next meal. Being content is understanding when we've had enough.

“The leech has two daughters.
    ‘Give! Give!’ they cry.
“There are three things that are never satisfied,
    four that never say, ‘Enough!’:
the grave, the barren womb,
    land, which is never satisfied with water,
    and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’
(Proverbs 30:15-16)

There are places in our lives where we feel we can never get enough. Whether we have addiction to approval, food, Netflix programs, attention, sports... the list could go on. But once we have finished with one thing, we're looking for the next, even when we really don't need it. We rarely know when to be satisfied.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
 Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
(Psalm 103:1-5)

The only one who can satisfy us and truly show us contentment is God. He is the one who satisfies our desires--not food, other people, Netflix, or money. Nothing satisfies us except Him. So when we're feeling like we can't get enough, when we feel like we need something more in order to be happy, it's time for us to turn to God in prayer and praise Him for fulfilling our every need. When we feel a need in our heart for something more, He is the one who can fill it.

Today my prayer is that we will turn to the Lord when we feel empty. Let us not turn anything else into an idol by looking for it to satisfy us. Instead, let us turn to the one who provides true contentment.

Sunday Devotional - What are you a slave to?

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1 NIV)

In Exodus chapter 1, we find that God delivered the Israelites from 400 years of bondage in Egypt. Generation after generation of slavery. So much so that the people who God delivered through Moses knew nothing about being free--slavery was all that they had ever known. They had no choice but to jump when their taskmaster said to. They couldn't say, "no." It wasn't an option.

When God sent the plagues to Egypt and Pharaoh finally let them go, they had a hard time adjusting to this new life of freedom. They still felt they needed someone to tell them what to do. They needed to be busy. They had no idea what to do with all this free time. Their minds were still fixed on being slaves.

Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath
 to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son
 or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, 
nor any foreigner residing in your towns. (Exodus 20:9-10)

God wanted the people to remember Him. To not just sit around and do nothing on the Sabbath day, but to spend the time with Him, in worship, prayer, and studying His word. 

While we work we might "forget" about Him, momentarily. If we get too busy, we might go hours without remembering. This is slavery. Without being plugged-in and in-tune to our God, we're doing things by our own strength instead of His, and our batteries will soon run dry.

Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried 
and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. 
Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her. 
(Luke 10: 41-42)

What are we enslaved to? What keeps us from listening to and taking in the Lord? Are we busy serving the church and missing out on the relationship we need to have with Jesus? Are we busy chauffeuring our kids around from event to event? Too busy checking emails and social media? What are we enslaved to?

Today my prayer is that we take the time to think about what seemingly innocuous things we're giving our time to. With God's help, we can decide if we should cut back, and think about giving more of our time to sitting at the feet of Jesus. Let us remember why we are free.

Sunday Devotional ~ Do we have to suffer?

For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined. (Psalm 66:10)

Life is pain and suffering. Each one of us has trials we must go through in order to make it from birth to death. No one's life is easy, even if it may seem so. Our response to the trials we go through are what make us stronger or bring us down further. God refines us through our trials so we can learn to rely upon Him for our strength and ability.

 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, 
as though some strange thing happened to you; (1Peter 4:12)

Being a child of God doesn't keep you from the trials of life, it just gives you Jesus to rely upon to help you through each of the struggles. We must trust Him and rely upon Him to make it through each episode of life. By doing this we learn not to have faith in our own strength and abilities. The harder the trial, the sooner we learn to lean on Jesus.

For by You I can run against a troop; By my God I can leap over a wall. (2 Samuel 22:30)

Without the wall in front of us, we would not know we can leap over it by God's help. Without the troop standing against us, we would not know we could run against it with God's strength. God sets trials before us so we can learn how great and awesome He is. 

Whatever trial we're going through today, let us remember Who is there to help us get through it. Let us not ask why we're in a trial. Let us not wish the trial would go away. Instead, let us face the trial head on, knowing that on the other side of it, we will be closer to God and allowing Him to manifest Himself to us, in us and through us.