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Inspiring Generations

Pastor Ky Devo Thurs

December 31, 2015

Psalm 90:12 (ESV) – So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

In life, every so often, it is good to re-evaluate.  Evaluation helps us reconnect to what is really important in life.  Evaluating causes us to get out of our ruts and see whether or not we are really living our lives to the fullest.  We can live life never evaluating and come toward the final seasons of life and have many regrets.  The daily grind has a way of moving us through life quickly – and if we don’t take time to assess where we are and where we want to be, we can look up and see that we missed some very important things in life.  The most tragic thing in life is to succeed at the wrong things.  Most people don’t think about this until their life is almost over.

A new year is a great opportunity for us to re-evaluate.  The Psalmist says that taking some time to stop and consider the scope of our lives leads to wisdom.  It’s like a person lost in the woods taking time to climb a tree and see the entire landscape of the area to know where he ought to go.  This is a great time for us to stop, consider our lives and what is really important, and make the necessary trajectory shifts to make sure our lives are counting for what is important.

You and I will only have one shot at 2016.  It will be gone, and we will never get it back.  Let’s not coast through it and succeed at the wrong things.

Personal Application:  I suggest starting your evaluating time with prayer.  Ask God to reveal things you need to change and/or new directions you need to go.  One great practice is to try and imagine that you only have 40 days to live.  How does this affect your priorities?  What would you start doing?  What would you stop?  What would you fix?  What keeps you from doing these things now?

Success in life comes down to three things:  Faith, Family, Friends.  Perhaps take some time to go through these three areas and ask the Lord to help you see how you can maximize these areas in your life.

Final questions:

Are there some important things you are neglecting?

Are there things you should stop?

Are there any priorities out of order?

Are there relationships you need to mend?

What are the first steps you need to take to move in the right direction?

Devotional written by Ky Faciane

NYE Week (Part 3): What’s Your Fun Goal?

December 30, 2015

“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. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.” -Galatians 5:1-2

 

A lot of people in the world think that becoming a Christian means you can’t have as much fun. All of a sudden, you have to live by a set of rules that hold you back from doing whatever you want. I heard a non-Christian friend tell me once that he felt sorry for me because he felt like I was trapped in my faith. I tried to explain to him that Christianity offered freedom, not entrapment. But I realized he wouldn’t grasp that unless he encountered the Holy Spirit. It’s so unfortunate that most people don’t know that there is freedom  and joy in Christ. We have been set free from our faith so that we can live a life of abundance, peace and fun!

God wants us to enjoy our days and have fun along the way! He desires for his followers to find pleasure in their lives. So as you enter a new year, what goal can you set that allows you to just enjoy your off-time more? What is something you want to be more intentional to do because it helps you to unplug and find pleasure in the life God saved you into? Remember that our goals should always align with glorifying God and living a holy life. We should never seek out anything that pulls us away from God. So as you think of your pleasing goal for 2016, think of one that restores you in a healthy way!

 

Personal Application: What’s your fun goal for 2016? Be specific. Make it something you can track. Write it down. Come up with a plan. Then share it with someone that can keep you accountable so that you are reminded throughout the year that Christ has saved us into this free life!

Home Application: Who are you going to have keep you accountable for this goal? Tell them about it today so they can nudge you throughout the year to keep pursuing it!

 

What’s your fun goal for 2016?

 

Devotional written by Stephen

NYE Week (Part 2): What’s Your Professional Goal?

December 29, 2015

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” -Colossians 2:23-24

3 days until 2016! What a great day to think about what your pursuing in life, as far as your job/ career/ calling goes. For each of us this is going to look totally different! For some of you, your professional goal will directly relate to a position that you are currently in and a new achievement you want to pursue. Or it could be a new position that you hope to obtain in the future. If you’re a full-time parent, your goal might be specific to something you hope to accomplish or work towards with your family. For others, this goal might be specific to a side project that you’ve been wanting to develop for some time. Or a ministry venture you’ve been wanting to pursue. And even for others, your professional could be related to finishing an education goal that may open up some doors for your future ahead.

This goal is an important one because this pertains to the aspect of our lives that we tend to spend the majority of our quality time on each week. And whatever your current season of life calls you to do right now, God calls us to do it with excellence! Part of doing with excellence means being intentional and being as effective as we can be!

 

Personal Application: What’s your professional goal for 2016? Think about it. Write it down. And come up with specific action steps and deadlines along the way to track your progress.

Home Application: Share your goal with your family and even a friend or two so they can keep you accountable along the way. The best way to ensure you will meet your goal is to come up with an action plan and get accountability!

 

What’s your professional goal for 2016?

 

Devotional written by Stephen

NYE Week (Part 1): What’s Your Personal Goal?

December 28, 2015

“So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.” -2 Corinthians 5:9

 

The leap year is just 4 days away! 2016 is going to be a big year. We have the Olympics. We have an Election (possibly the biggest we’ll ever have). And we have an extra day! As we all venture into a new season together, let’s take the next three days to think of what some of our goals for this new year will be. And rather than trying to stretch them out to an entire year, what if we created goals that were attainable over the next 3 months so that they don’t fall by the wayside? After all, 88% of New Years Resolutions are never met! So let’s be realistic and just set three goals for ourselves: Personal, Professional, & Pleasing.

For your personal goal, think of a goal that you want to set for the next three months that affects your personal life. So this one isn’t as much about your job or career aspirations. This is a goal you want to work towards to better your personal life. Make sure it’s specific and trackable, so that you can gauge progress (ie. run a half marathon, read five books, adopt a dolphin, etc). Also, make sure your goal is one that glorifies God. All of our goals in life should point towards Christ. As you think through your goals, be sure to choose ones that align with a holy life.

 

Personal Application: What’s your personal goal for 2016? Think about it. Write it down. And come up with specific action steps and deadlines along the way to track your progress.

Home Application: Share your goal with your family and even a friend or two so they can keep you accountable along the way. The best way to ensure you will meet your goal is to come up with an action plan and get accountability.

 

What’s your personal goal for 2016?

 

Devotional written by Stephen

“Welcome To Our Family!”

December 25, 2015

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” -Luke 2:6-11

 

Get the pecan pie out of the oven, people! Today’s the big day! Everyone’s favorite date of the year – December 25! Christmas Day! Hopefully you get to celebrate today with your favorite people and favorite Christmas traditions. My family will be eating some great food, exchanging gifts, and watching movies. Every year, our family reflects on this year and all the blessings God has given us as we sit down to Christmas dinner. It’s a time to share and celebrate what God has been doing in all of our lives!

However you celebrate Christmas today, make sure that you remember what today is all about. Today is Jesus’ birthday and our yearly opportunity to welcome him to our world. Every single day, we have the opportunity to welcome Jesus into our lives and into our families by responding to him with a life of love and grace towards those around us! From God’s perspective, the best way that we can celebrate this day is by welcoming his grace into our lives and sharing that with those around us. So today let’s enjoy our gifts, apple cider, and yummy pie as we praise God for bridging the gap between heaven and earth!

 

Personal Application: How will you welcome Jesus into your family today? Joseph and Mary welcomed him into the world over 2,000 years ago on his actual birthday. They received him with love, hospitality, and sacrifice. Today as a family, you have the same opportunity to welcome Jesus into your family by making a new commitment to love another as he has loved you. Start with your relationships with one another and move outward. This is the best way we can celebrate Christmas every day!

 

Home Application: Take some time today to share how God has blessed you this year. Let it be a time of encouragement towards one another on this very special day!

 

How will you welcome Jesus into your family today?

 

Devotional written by Stephen

Would It Be A Wonderful Life?

December 24, 2015

“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken falsely, and your tongue mutters wicked things.” -Isaiah 59:2-3

 

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is still considered by many to be the best Christmas movie, even almost 70 years after it came out. What makes it so great is the what if factor, posing what if George Bailey had never been born? Through the movie, we get to see what life would’ve been like if George had never entered the world and the amount of impact he made through his life. The beauty of the movie is that it sparks the curiosity of our mind to imagine what life would be like if certain events never occurred. Through the movie, we’re taught how one life affects so many people.

What if Jesus had never entered the world? What if Christmas wasn’t even a thing because Jesus never came? Well, things would be a lot different. We’d be living under the Old Testament law, hoping to find salvation through obedient acts and a series of animal sacrifices throughout the year. We would have complete separation from God, only being able to interact with him through a High Priest in a special robe. If Jesus had never come, everything about our lives would be different. Everything would! Without the grace of Jesus, life would not be quite as wonderful as it is!

Tomorrow we celebrate the coming of Jesus. Because it changed absolutely everything.

 

Personal Application: How have you changed since Jesus entered your life? This answer will very greatly among our church family! For those who found Jesus early in life, we may need to answer more specifically how Jesus has changed our life recently. For those who found Jesus later in life, think of all the ways that he has transformed you since then. Celebrate the change in your life today!

 

Home Application: Remind your family to take time to celebrate Jesus and not just Christmas today.

 

How have you changed since Jesus entered your life?

 

Devotional written by Stephen

To Be Continued?

December 23, 2015

“For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance…” -Acts 28:30-31

 

And that’s the end of Acts! Or is it? The exciting thing about getting to the end of Acts is that we realize it doesn’t really end. There isn’t a definite moment where it says ‘and that concluded the ministry of the church.’ Nope! It just ends by saying that Paul continued to boldly preach the Word of God. That’s because the movement that began in the book of Acts is still going on today. We are just continuing on what they began several centuries ago in Jerusalem.

Paul eventually died. God used him and Peter and Mary and all of the other early Christ followers to continue spreading his Word all over Europe and Asia. Eventually, missionaries took it to Africa, the Americas, and Australia. And over the next two thousand years, Christ followers continued on the ministry that we’ve read about in the book of Acts. With each new generation of people comes a fresh need for passionate Christians to share the good news of Jesus with them.

We are still living out the book of Acts today! God’s promise to his followers in Acts 1 that we will “receive his spirit” (1:8) is the same promise he gives all of his followers in our generation as well. His challenge to be his witnesses all over the globe is just as relevant this year as it was to Peter’s crew in Jerusalem in the first century. That’s why we gather every week to talk about Jesus. That’s why we take trips all over the country to tell people about Jesus. That’s why we wake up every morning and read more about Jesus. We do all this because we are now the ones continuing the story of Jesus today!

 

 

Personal Application:  Do you have the same passion that Paul had? God’s call to Paul is the exact same call we have in our lives today. We live in a time that less and less people want to follow Jesus. The thing that will change their minds is seeing authentic Christ followers living out lives of love and grace. The best evidence for Christ is someone who has been transformed by Christ.

Home Application: This Christmas week, encourage your family to remember that every week is an opportunity to celebrate Christ’s birth. Not just the 4th week in December!

 

Do you have the same passion that Paul had?

 

Devotional written by Stephen

Is It Appealing to Appeal?

December 22, 2015

“Paul answered: ‘I am now standing before Caesar’s court, where I ought to be tried. I have not done any wrong to the Jews, as you yourself know very well. If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!” -Acts 25:10-11

 

Paul does something pretty significant in Acts 25. He appeals to Caesar. What that means is that he exercised his right to have his case heard before Caesar himself in Rome. This would’ve been the equivalent of taking a case to the Supreme Court today. The reason this is so momentous is because he didn’t have to do this – he probably would’ve been let go because he hadn’t committed any crimes. Had he not appealed, he probably would’ve been released soon after. But he asked to go before Caesar instead and extend the trial.

Why would he do this? Why would he want to be on trial longer than he had to? Going to Caesar meant putting the whole idea of the Christian movement on trial. If Caesar decided that it wasn’t unlawful or illegal for Christians to practice their faith, then Christianity would be given credibility in the culture and Christians wouldn’t be persecuted anymore. So Paul was putting his neck on the line in order to pave the way for less persecution for his fellow Christian brothers and sisters. He appealed in hopes that it would help move the church forward in the future.

Paul wasn’t so focused on his own spiritual journey that he missed opportunities to help others in their journey. If it meant helping Christians receive less persecution and punishment in the future, he was willing to extend the trial and stay in jail. What a guy! 

Personal ApplicationHave you ever thought how you might be paving the way for other Christians in the future? In a lot of ways, your ministry towards the people around you might just be to plant the seeds for someone else to come in after you and water them. You may never see the fruit from all the love that you are showing towards your schools and neighborhoods, but that doesn’t mean its not there. God could be using you for the sole purpose of setting someone else in to come in bear great fruit because of what you did before them.

Home Application: Talk to your family about the importance of legacy. Our life is not just about the here and now, but about how we are helping to build up God’s kingdom and other Christ followers for the future generations.

 

Have you ever thought about how you might be paving the way for other Christians in the future?

 

Devotional written by Stephen

What About Those Plotters, Though?

December 21, 2015

“The next morning some Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. More than forty men were involved in this plot.” -Acts 23:12-13

 

Acts 23 gives us a picture of how ruthless some people can be against Christ followers.No matter how hard you try, there are going to be certain people around you that will never accept Jesus. They will keep their hardened heart towards Christianity and Christians in general. They will spend their life being passionate about the exact opposite thing that you are, by dedicating their time refuting Christ and mocking Christ followers.These were the ones that were plotting to kill Paul in Acts 23. They weren’t mad at him because he’d committed a crime or hurt them in some way. Paul had nothing wrong to them. They were mad because he preached Jesus and they rejected Jesus. So in essence, they weren’t rejecting Paul. They were rejecting Christ.

As a Christ follower, you’re going to encounter people like this in your life. There are going to be those who reject Christians and spend their time trying to disprove Christ and mock you for what you do. Don’t let them discourage you. Their activity does not change the truth of Christ. And it shouldn’t change your attitude towards following Christ. The best thing you can do is to pray for them. Because as Jesus says, they are lost “sheep without a shepherd” (Mt. 9:36).

 

Personal Application: Do you ever let non-believers discourage your walk in Christ? Don’t let them! There are many out there who are just as passionate about rejecting Jesus as you are following him. God wants us to have compassionate love towards them at all times. But God also wants us to guard our hearts and make sure that they don’t prevent us from chasing towards Christ! So guard yourself from those who want to pull you apart.

 

Home Application: Today would be a great day to talk to your family about guarding your heart. It’s important that we set up boundaries that don’t allow us to get pulled down in our walk with Christ. Set those boundaries with your family today.

 

Do you ever let non-believers discourage your walk in Christ?

 

Devotional written by Stephen

Can People Really Change?

December 18, 2015

“Then he said: ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you [Paul] to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard.” -Acts 22:14-15

People seem to be pretty skeptical when they hear that someone has ‘turned from their ways’ and become a changed person. I remember when Ray Lewis, after being accused of murder on two accounts, came out and told the public that Jesus saved his life. Most of the country didn’t believe him. They felt like he was being phony, so that people would forgive him. There are a lot of people out there who don’t truly believe that people can change. They get skeptical when they hear stories like Ray Lewis (former football player/ criminal/ born-again Christian) because they would say that a person’s tendencies never really change. This is a sad myth that lots of the country buys into, unfortunately. They tend to live life with a skeptical view towards the world, categorizing the population around them into either the ‘good person’ or ‘bad person’ category. 

Jesus’ ministry showed us the exact opposite. Jesus actually taught us that we were created to change our lives to be more like him. Jesus always ministered to the thieves, prostitutes, and outcasts, telling them that his salvation was not out of their reach. He reminded the world that people can change – and should change because that’s what he created us for! Paul was a living example of that. So can people really change? Absolutely! Jesus expects them to! The very heart of the Gospel is the belief that every heart can be transformed because of Jesus.

 

Personal Application: Do you truly believe that God could change anyone’s heart? A lot of times, we don’t act like it. If we did, we would stop seeing non-Christians by the bad choices they are making and instead see them as not-yet Christians!

Home Application: Talk to your family about the power of the cross. It can transform anyone. It’s the ultimate trump card!

 

Do you truly believe that God could change anyone’s heart?

 

Devotional written by Stephen

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