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Inspiring Generations

Trust God?

April 24, 2014

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight”(Proverbs 3:5-6).

As I entered a transitional time from ministry as a Youth Pastor to Pastoring a church, I sat with a psychiatrist friend who listened as I tried to explain all my concerns regarding the move. After patiently listening, he asked, “Is this what you know that God is leading you to do?” Of greatest concern was how I would provide for my family of five and do my needed seminary training to prepare for a more expansive role as Pastor. Answering his question was hard but my heart knew that this was God’s leading. When I answered yes he responded,”Then I guess it has come down to this you will have to just trust God for the details.” My family left for seminary five months later after selling our house unsure how God would provide. Within five months of our arrival at seminary God provided a full time pastorate with a parsonage and the love of an incredible farming community. How did I know this was God’s will? I prayed earnestly, sought the counsel of godly men, and most importantly sought God’s counsel in the Bible. I knew God had called me to ministry. I knew that there were skills I needed in order to do the best job possible. Most of all, I had a clear perspective that the God who called me would provide all that was necessary for the journey. Trust God? Who is more worthy of our trust? “My own understanding” included a long  list of what ifs and if onlys. God simply wanted me to trust His good intentions and provisions for the journey. The choice was mine to make. I chose to trust God instead of give in to my worries. He faithfully provided the way.

PERSONAL APPLICATION:  What walls have prevented you from trusting God? Time spent in His presence and His Word along with godly counsel will set your heart on path He has prepared before you.

HOME APPLICATION: Make a list of things in which you have difficulty trusting God. Then make another list of the character qualities of God (love, faithfulness, power, goodnes, ….etc.) What character quality of God best addresses your area of distrust. For instance: since God is all wise I can trust what he says; since he is the giver of every good and perfect gift I can tust His provision.

QUESTION TO PONDER:  IN WHAT SITUATION ARE YOU NEEDING TO TRUST GOD TODAY?

We’ve Got Spirit, Yes We Do

April 23, 2014

13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. – John 16:13-14

 

My wife, who was a high school cheerleader, cheer coach, and overall cheer enthusiast, will often bust out a cheer from her long, long, looonngg list of known cheers. As we were discussing the resurrection and ascension of Jesus we started to talk about the Holy Spirit. And yes, you guessed it, a cheer followed. “We’ve got spirit, YES WE DO, We’ve got spirit, HOW ABOUT YOU?”

 

In the passage, Jesus is sharing the Passover meal with His disciples, known as the Last Supper. He knows that He soon would be leaving the earth and the disciples will be in a state of uncertainty. So, in Jesus fashion, He tells them several things to help them cope that they do not quite understand yet.

 

Jesus promises to leave a helper, the Holy Spirit, in His place. The Spirit of Truth will guide believers toward a life that glorifies Christ. Jesus states that he has many things to say to the disciples, but they would be unable to bear it at that point. The Holy Spirit would guide them and us to know the things Jesus still had to say.

 

Where we lack in wisdom the Holy Spirit gives. A lot like the disciples, who we can look back on and wonder how they were so dense, I can miss what is going on in front of my very eyes. I will never be smart enough to understand the ways of God, however, the Holy Spirit is someone I can allow to be wise for me so that I know what I need to know.

 

So yes, I’ve got Spirit too. Perhaps I need to start living empowered by Him.

 

Personal Application

 

How reliant are you on the Holy Spirit daily? Do you ever forget He is there and wonder why God feels so far off?

 

Home Application

 

Talk with your family about the Holy Spirit. We misunderstand the Holy Spirit a lot of the times and do not give him much credence. Jesus gave us a personal helper to lead and guide every step we take.

 

Do you consider the Holy Spirit as an equal part of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)?

 

Today’s Devo written by Travis Hogg.

Let’s Get to Work

April 22, 2014

25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.” 29His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” 31Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16 25-33

For some reason when I read this passage I hear a rock anthem growing and growing in my head. It is like I’m in the locker room hearing my coach give the best half time speech of his life. I’m on the battlefield and my superior has raised my courage level to unstoppable. I’m a parent and my kid has just made a huge accomplishment and now nothing can stop them.

Jesus tells His disciples that it will be hard, it will be scary, it will be lonely, and it will be too much. However, He has overcome the world. He lets them know that what happens is not in their hands but in His hands.

If we are to be building and growing the church for the glory of His name, we need to shake off the issues. If you are anything like me, you may find yourself at times of uncertainty, outnumbered by well-spoken opponents, or even afraid of rejection.

“But take heart…” Those red lettered words spoken by Jesus are full of love and encouragement. The only time those very words can be trusted and held up as truth.

Let’s make disciples of the God who has overcome the world. This world that makes us shrink away. God says, “You can stand up, I’ve got this.”

Personal Application

Your neighbors, teammates, and co-workers need Jesus. The time is now to stand on the truth that is Jesus Christ.

Home Application

As a family, put yourselves in that locker room ready to hit the field with everything you have. Be encouragers to one another and affirm one another with the words of Christ.

How will you change eternity today?

Today’s devo written by Travis Hogg.

Back to Normal

April 21, 2014

Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” –John 21:5

Let me set the scene for you. You have just enjoyed a glorious celebration of Jesus’ resurrection at church with your family. You heard the truth about the different ways you respond to Jesus and you know believing in faith is the right choice. Yet, Monday is here and maybe you have already settled back in to what you do every day. Much like the disciples, who walked physically with Jesus, we tend do what is comfortable and what has always been.

In this passage, Jesus has been just resurrected and appeared to the disciples in a locked room where they were hiding. John says, “They were glad when they saw the Lord.” After some time, comes the time for a few of the disciples to respond.

Peter, along with six other disciples made the decision to go back to what they knew before Jesus came along: fishing. Jesus had told them that they were now to be fishers of men. They were to be out sharing the story of the resurrection, growing the church, changing the world. Instead, they found themselves on a “Monday” doing what they always did.

They hear a voice from the shore yell out, “Children, do you have any fish?” And they answer him, “No.” The man tells them to throw their nets to the other side of the boat, into waters that would have been very difficult for fishing and they pull in an overabundance of fish. They then realize its Jesus on the shore.

Jesus calls out to us as well. He is asking us if we are being fishers of men. Are we sharing the good news of the Savior, building the church, serving and loving people?

 

Personal Application

Write out what changes you can make to actively serve Jesus and not make today a regular Monday.

Home Application

When you look at your family, are you the disciples in the boat doing what they always do? Are you letting life just happen or are you living life for Christ?

Can you make this Monday different from the past? Can you respond to Jesus today by believing in faith?

 

Today’s devo written by Travis Hogg.

It’s a whole new life…

April 18, 2014

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” –John 14:18-20

This weekend is all about new life. A lot of times we tend to focus on the death of Jesus. We do reenactments where Jesus is crucified. We watch films that accentuate the brutal beating Jesus took on our behalf. For example, The Passion of the Christ film depicts His resurrection in the last few minutes of the movie. Jesus’ death and burial were completions of what He said He would do for mankind. The real miracle happened on that third day.

That day we all call Easter or Resurrection Sunday. The entire gospel wrapped up in a moment for us to look back on and also give us something to look toward. Jesus’s death was in fact horrific and amazing that He would take our place in the punishment. His burial was ceremonious yet sad. But His resurrection is the glorification of Himself. Notice that His death and burial are in the past, past tense, over. His resurrection IS. He IS victorious. He IS risen. He IS conqueror over death. He IS alive.

As a follower of Christ, I worship the living God who lives in me. The present perfect tense in English is a tense that describes an action that happened and is still going on. Christians live their lives in this tense. We look back to the resurrection of Christ and live life new because Christ has made us new.

Personal Application

If you are a Christian, Christ has taken away the old and made you new. Does your life reflect that change? Do you need to do some heart searching to see if you are holding on to any of the old?

Home Application

Spring-cleaning is big at my house. We get rid of old stuff to make the house look clean and fresh. Take your family and examine your hearts by chatting about what each other needs to be getting rid of in your life. This will create great accountability with your family as you work to follow Christ together.

Are you living lives with the excitement of new life in Christ?

Today’s devo written by Travis Hogg

The Killer’s Plan?

April 17, 2014

47So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53So from that day on they made plans to put him to death. -John 11

 

Caiaphas was the chief priest and was therefore a representative of God to the people.  We find out that Caiaphas was really good at playing politics and staying in his position by appeasing Rome. A majority of the Sanhedrin, the council of chief priests, was worried about losing their power and being replaced by Rome. They knew that anytime someone threatened the rule of Rome, it was dealt with harshly. Jesus had been gaining quite the following and people were beginning to believe in Him as the Son of God. This Sanhedrin knew that if the Romans noticed the actions of Jesus, surely their time would come to an end.

 

Caiaphas speaks up and shares a truth without even knowing. He claims that Jesus is going to die for his people. That day they made plans to put Jesus to death.

 

God’s plan all along was to use the thoughts of evil men to glorify Himself. “How?” you may ask. Caiaphas’ plan was meant for evil. The death of Jesus would make his position in the Sanhedrin secure. However, God was going to use his evil plan for the ultimate good, the salvation of mankind.

 

Personal Application

 

It does not matter if God has placed you in a very comfortable situation in life or the opposite. God can take what the enemy meant for evil and turn it for your good. (Gen. 50:20)

 

Home Application

 

What are some ways you can begin to express your confidence in God’s plan? Begin to look at life through that lens.

 

How is God proving Himself faithful to you?

 

Todays devo written by Travis Hogg.

Life change

April 16, 2014

This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.   Colossians 1:6 (NLT)

In April of 2009, we began to hear about something called the swine flu outbreak.  What is believed to have started in Mexico spread around the world.  In a report given by the World Health Organization, by July 2009 the confirmed cases of swine flu had reached 94,512 including 429 deaths.

Paul saw an epidemic during his time on planet earth, but it wasn’t one related to disease or viruses.  In a letter he wrote to the people of Colossi, he let them know that a Jesus epidemic was spreading throughout the world.  The Good News that Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins was spreading like a pandemic.

Health officials were diligent about letting people know the symptoms of swine flu, so folks could know if they had contracted the disease.  In today’s passage, Paul talks about the main symptom of those who are infected with the grace of God and are truly believers… they are experiencing a changed life.

Jesus didn’t die on the cross to excuse our current lifestyle but to forgive it and change it.  Our life in Christ should be a consistent and ongoing process of our lives changing from what we desire to what God desires.  Our actions, our attitudes, our goals, our dreams, our desires… all these will continue to change because Jesus has changed our hearts on the inside.

Personal Application- What about you?  Are you showing the symptoms of change?  Have you really been infected with the Good News?  Is the Good News spreading around the world because of you, or are you in quarantine? God wants his Good News to change lives all over the world… and you and I are called to be its carriers.

Home Application-  How are you helping family members to spread the Good News about Jesus?  If you have kids, are you encouraging them to invite a friend to church by offering to drive them?  Are you willing to help host a block party at your home with your spouse?  Talk to those in your home about teaming up to spread the Good News about Jesus.

Today’s devo written by Jeff Humphrey

Who has your changing life impacted lately?

 

Remembering Jesus

April 15, 2014

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”  Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.  This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.”  When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.    Matthew 26:26-30 (NIV)

 

The Lord’s Supper is our opportunity to remember the incredible price Jesus paid to take away our sins.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23 (NLT)

 The free gift of God, which takes away our sin and gives us eternal life wasn’t free for Christ.  He paid the price with everything He had…

  • We remember Him by eating a piece of broken bread.  The broken bread reminds us of the body of Jesus, broken by the beatings with sticks, fists, and whips which He had to endure just so He could get to the cross.
  • We remember Him by drinking a cup of grape juice, or new wine.  The wine reminds us of the blood of Jesus that flowed from His wounds until there was no more to sustain his life.

Jesus said that all this was done so humanity could experience the forgiveness of sins.  Though the gift is available to all, not all will believe and not all will trust Christ alone for life eternal and abundant.

Application-  This week, you have been encouraged to share the Lord Supper in your home with family or maybe some close friends.  Prepare yourself, so that through it you are inspired to give all you have in this life for Him, since He gave all He had for you…

  • Read through John chapter 19 as a reminder of what He went through…
  • Spend some time reflecting on what your life might be like if Christ hadn’t saved you or changed you.  Thank Him and worship Him for the salvation you have experienced…
  • Talk with your family about the Lord’s Supper and lead them to make the most of this remembering…
  • If you are wrestling with sin, confess it to God and ask Him to forgive you because of Jesus death on the cross…
  • In reflecting on Christ giving His all, is there something that He has wanted you to do for Him, but you have held back?  Why not commit to take that step now, expressing to Christ you want to start giving your all for Him?

Today’s devo written by Jeff Humphrey

How has a relationship with the Lord changed your life?

Deep love adds up

April 14, 2014

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you.  Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.  If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.  Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back.  Do to others as you would like them to do to you.  “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that?  Even sinners love those who love them!”    Luke 6:27-32 (NLT) 

Are you serious, Lord?  The person who hates me, curses me, hurts me, slaps me, and takes from me is a person I am supposed to love, do good for, bless, pray for, allow to slap more and on top of that I am supposed to not try to retrieve what they have taken?  Doesn’t that just reward their bad behavior?

Love is much like math.  When you start learning about it, it seems simple to add and subtract.  Things get a little more complicated as you learn to multiply and divide, but when it really gets tough is when you go beyond the basics to algebra, geometry, trigonometry and calculus.  How does someone become successful in calculus?  The answer is one problem at a time.  First you add, then subtract.  Next you multiply, then divide.  Pretty soon you learn to do all of them together with whole numbers, then you learn to do them with fractions.  Next are variables.  No one goes from learning addition one day to multiplying variables the next.

We are learning to love from the Master teacher, Jesus.  He had solved every love problem He has ever encountered with perfection, even the problems that you and I have caused for Him.  He is teaching us to love correctly.  He is the best teacher because he didn’t love theoretically but in real flesh and blood.  When they hated Him, cursed Him, slapped Him, hurt Him, and even stole His clothes on the day of His crucifixion His love for his enemies was heard as He said, “Forgive them Father, for they don’t know what they are doing.”

Personal Application-  Learning how to love may start with the teacher unlearning the things in you where you have been loving wrong.   Let the Master teacher do His great work.  He will teach you the lesson through His words and through real life problems to apply those lessons in.  And He will also give you His strength to accomplish this amazing kind of loving He calls us to do.

Home Application-  When a family member is wrongfully attacked in some way, are you as interested in them learning to love those who attacked them as you are them getting justice?  Ask God to help you go after both, but realize that learning to love in difficult situations is much better than getting justice.

Today’s devo written by Jeff Humphrey

 

Who is most difficult for you to love?

Love extravagantly

April 11, 2014

Mark 12:41-44 (NLT)
Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts.  Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins.  Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions.  For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”

 

When you really love someone, you are willing to sacrifice.

As Jesus was at the temple one day, he noticed a woman who put in a very small offering.  Though the value of the offering was less than most, Jesus declared her offering to be the most extravagant because in giving it, she gave all she had.

This woman’s offering to God is a great example of what love looks like.  When you really love someone, what you are willing to give to them is not based on convenience.  True love is willing to take a loss and do without because you value the object of your love, and you want the best for them.

Jesus set that example for us…

Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself

as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Ephesians 5:2 (NLT)

Jesus loved us with a love that was not convenient but with a love that cost Him everything.  Knowing that the only way you and I could be put in a right eternal relationship with God was through his death and resurrection; He laid down His life and suffered through all the humiliation and pain of the crucifixion.  He gave His all that we might have life eternal and abundant.

And Christ’s call on our lives is to love him and love others with that same kind of love.  There are people we will be with today that desperately need to be loved, and if we choose to love them it is going to cost us time, emotional energy, and maybe even something tangible.  If you look at what it will cost you, you probably won’t do it.  But if through Christ’s eyes you look at the person who needs to be loved, you will find yourself giving extravagantly.

Personal Application-  Put a five dollar bill in your pocket as you leave the house today.  Ask God to show you someone who could use it, and give it to them.  When they ask you why, tell them about your prayer and let them know God loves them.  See if the conversation leads to more opportunity to help them know about the love of God.

Home Application-  Do  you know of a family that is going through a tough time and could use a meal or benefit from some lawn care?  Why not plan to prepare that meal as a family and deliver it or spend time doing their lawn as a family.  Not only will the family in need benefit but your family will grow in their love for each other and love for the Lord too!

Today’s devo written by Jeff Humphrey

When is the last time you gave an extravagant gift of love to someone?

 

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