Devotional – When in Rome

Acts 23:11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

Terrific. So now I have to go to Rome too?

I read thru what happened to Paul when he got to Jerusalem in today’s devotional. He spoke what the Lord laid on his heart. He was obedient, and what did he get in return? He almost got torn to bits by an angry mob (shouting “Rid the earth of him. He is not fit to live”), got arrested, almost flogged and then punched in the face by the religious leaders (literally punched in the face). And then the Lord tells him he gets to do it all again in Rome, where the jail-keeper is getting ready to ship him off to.

I’m not going to lie. I feel like I did my Jerusalem tonight. I don’t want to do Rome. Continue reading

Devotional – Goopy, Messy, Yucky

Acts 11:17 “So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?”

Man. God is so amazing. I know that. Sometimes it just bowls be over though. Last week I felt totally convicted and spoken to by 1 Corinthians 12. The whole chapter. I did a blog on a particular scripture from it, but really – the whole chapter just jumped off the page at me. I read it several times because it was just such good stuff. Last night at small group, the passage of scripture we had for our “assigned” group reading was 1 Corinthians 12. What?!! Yeah. How cool is that.

Today’s devotional reading from Acts 11 gave me just another layer of what God has been talking to me about for the last week. Peter is dealing with the coming together of two groups of people (Jews and Gentiles) that, in his culture, absolutely were not to have anything to do with each other. Gentiles were considered unclean. In Acts 10:28 Peter actually talks about it being against the law for him to associate in any way with a Gentile. He had some major hurdles to overcome – but he believed what God was showing him, that he shouldn’t be calling anyone impure or unclean. That the Lord’s gift of salvation and forgiveness was for everyone…not just the chosen few.

I think sometimes in life we insulate ourselves inside our own little christian world. We don’t want to get dirty. So we don’t associate with people who have a little mud on their jeans. Even for those inside the body of believers, we have classifications. There are those who don’t drink, don’t swear, don’t watch certain kinds of movies or listen to particular varieties of music. We have the “good christians” who are regular church attenders, the tithers, the prayer warriors etc. I think there’s always the danger of thinking somehow you’re better than others. Don’t have as many issues, problems or struggles. That in some way, your behavior means God didn’t have to save you quite as much as the next guy. Really we’re all fooling ourselves if we compare our “bad stuff” with someone else’s. Bottom line, we’re all complete failures in need of a savior.

Like God showed me last week in 1 Corinthians, and again today in Acts, who am I to say I don’t need another member of the body? Who am I to disparage those God has called me to be connected to? I’m nothing. Nothing without the saving grace of Jesus. Just like you. I have no claim to being more pure than you. Because underneath the outter layer I keep clean and tidy for everyone else to see, God sees the yuck, mire, goopy mess that is my heart. He knows my thoughts. The ones I wouldn’t want to share with anyone else. The harbored resentment, the ill wishes, the parts of me that are very vindictive and spiteful sometimes. Parts of me I don’t want to admit exist, not even to myself. So what right do I have to distance myself from another goopy, messy, yucky human? None. Zero.

Like Peter asks, “Who am I to oppose God?”. The Lord has given me relationships. He has put me in the world. Being a Christian doesn’t somehow exempt me from having to deal with all the yuck. Thankfully, God didn’t leave me here to figure it out on my own. He gave me the Holy Spirit as a guide. When the going gets rough, the road gets muddy and I’m getting dirty, I’m thankful the Lord is always there with a clean towel. So let’s dive in and yucky it up.

Devotional – Willing Blindness

2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.

Thanks again Mom for my “Jesus Calling” devotional. It’s awesome. From today’s reading “If you live your life too safely, you will never know the thrill of seeing Me work through you. — It is so wrong to measure your energy level against the challenges ahead of you. The issue is not your strength, but Mine, which is limitless.”

So often in life, I see obstacles and suddenly, my focus shifts from allowing God to work through me, to figuring out how to conquer the problem myself. I easily forget that regardless of what I see or feel, the Lord has it under control. At no time in the history of the universe has God said “Wow. Didn’t see that coming.”. Continue reading

Devotional – Success Through Failure

2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJ) For we walk by faith, not by sight.

People associate success with victories in life. We strive for a bigger house, nice job title or well-behaved children, but what we should really be looking for is problems, failures and weakness. When by my own strength, intelligence or resourcefulness I’m achieving great things, I feel like I don’t need God’s help. In the times when I stumble and fall – my dependence on His grace and mercy in my life becomes an intimate need, not just a casual fall back plan. The closest I have ever felt to my Lord was in the lowest of lows in my life. The times when I had peace resonating through my being were in choosing to turn my problems over to God, knowing that there was no earthly way to fix them. The growth that results from just letting go, from really depending on the Father to manage the details cannot be developed any other way. Unless I rely on Him, how can I tell others He is reliable? If I’m always “making it” without any real submission to God’s will, how am I a follower of Him?

2 Corinthians also says “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (verse 9) While it’s all good to be driven to the Lord’s feet in times of struggle, if we can come to a place of dependence on Him always, our lives would be so much more fulfilling. Sometimes I think we limit God’s ability to work in our lives in amazing ways, because we think we’re not good enough, strong enough or smart enough to go after big dreams. But that’s the whole point right? WE aren’t. But God is! There is no aspiration that’s too big for Him. No unattainable goal. When I’m in God’s perfect will and am striving for the seemingly impossible, I have the ultimate partner to turn my failure into His success.