Category Archives: Devotionals

Handle With Care: Iron Low Heat

Week 6 – Iron Low Heat

[Proverbs 1:32, Revelation 3:14-22]

 CARING WITHOUT COMPLACENCY

Romans 12:11 – Do not lack diligence (enthusiasm); be fervent in spirit (hot enough to boil); serve the Lord. [HCSB]

 

John Stott – The Laodicean church was a halfhearted church. Perhaps none of the seven letters is more appropriate to the twentieth-century church than this. It describes vividly the respectable, sentimental, nominal, skin-deep religiosity which is so widespread among us today. Our Christianity is flabby and anemic. We appear to have taken a lukewarm bath of religion.

Proverbs 1:32 – For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; [ESV]

Complacency – self-satisfaction, unawareness of deficiencies

 

Amos Religion without Repentance (4:6-13), Religion without Reformation / No change (5:11-12)

 

Revelation 3:14-22 – Church of Laodicea – Had religion, lacking RELATIONSHIP

 

verse 18 – Buy three things (v. 17 notes “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked”)

  • Gold purified in fire – Laodicea banking industry – know Jesus & be truly rich [FAITH]
  • White clothes – Laodicea black wool industry – be dressed (shameful nakedness not exposed) [RIGHTEOUS]
  • Ointment – Laodicea medical school famous for producing eye salve – spread over eyes to see [WORD OF GOD & ANOINTING OF HOLY SPIRIT]

 

verse 19 – God’s purpose of discipline – not to punish, to bring us back to Him

ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIP

 

Breakout Session Questions

1) Read Psalm 51:10-12. What is the cause of complacency in this passage? What can we do to fight the complacency?

2) Read Ephesians 1:15-16 and Revelation 2:4. What is the cause of complacency in these passages? What can we do to fight the complacency?

3) Read John 17:17 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17. What can we do to fight the complacency? Why is this so important?

4) Read Jeremiah 29:13. What can we do to fight the complacency? Why is this so important?

5) Read Acts 2:46-47. What can we do to fight the complacency? Why is this so important?

 

Handle with Care is a 6-week series focused on studying God’s Word and responding with care. The six weeks of messages may sound like instructions for laundry care — but you will soon find Handle with Care beckons you to examine within, to gauge how you truly love God and love others, and to grow inward and outward. Caring starts with the heart and pours out into the community.

 

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Handle With Care: Empty Pockets

Week 5 – Empty Pockets

[Matthew 6:19-21]

CARING FOR TREASURES

  • Treasures in heaven can’t be destroyed
  • Treasures in heaven can’t be stolen
  • Treasures will point to your heart

 

Time

  • God is in control of time (Psalm 74:16-17)
  • Make the best use of time (Ephesians 5:16)
  • Teach us to number our days that we may gain heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12)

 

Talent

  • Each of us have been entrusted/given gifts/possessions dependent upon our ability (Matthew 25:14-30)
  • Use your gifts to serve others & glorify God (1 Peter 4:10-11)

 

Treasure

  • Your soul is more important than the treasure of this world (Matthew 16:26)
  • Your life does not consist of an abundance of possessions (Luke 12:13-21)
  • Give and it will be given to you (Luke 6:38)

 

Breakout Sessions

Read Matthew 25:14-30, The Parable of the Bags of Gold (The Parable of the Talents)

1) Why do the men each get different amounts of gold/talents? What does this mean for us?

2) When we look at this parable, what do we see that is required of us as stewards?

3) What is the immediate response of the three men when they received their talents from their Master? What does this mean?

4) Why is the third servant described as a “wicked, lazy servant”?

 

Handle with Care is a 6-week series focused on studying God’s Word and responding with care. The six weeks of messages may sound like instructions for laundry care — but you will soon find Handle with Care beckons you to examine within, to gauge how you truly love God and love others, and to grow inward and outward. Caring starts with the heart and pours out into the community.

 

Handle With Care: Fasten the Zipper

Week 4 – Fasten the Zipper

[John 17:20-23]

CARING FOR UNITY

Why?

  1. Jesus Prays for Unity
  2. Unity points to Jesus

 

 

1 Corinthians 1:10 – I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. [ESV]

  • Agree in what you say / No division
  • Same understanding – Same conviction

Aim for Unity

  1. Stay Connected to the Vine
    1. Jesus is the Vine. We are the branches.
    2. Ephesians 4:16 – from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. [ESV]
    3. Knit together. Properly working as each other individually.
  2. One mind. One purpose.
    1. 1 Peter 3:8 – Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. [ESV]
  3. Live your gifts
    1. Romans 12:4-5 – For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. [ESV]
  4. All about Jesus
    1. Don’t let pride get in the way.
    2. Romans 12:16 – Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. [ESV]

 

Psalm 133:1 – Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! [ESV]

 

 

Breakout Sessions

1) Read Romans 12:4-5 and Ephesians 4:15-16. Paul writes to the Ephesians about walking in unity. What did Paul say was important for us to do as followers of Christ in the Ephesians passage? Why do you think this action is important? What would be the result(s) of doing this? How do we ensure we are doing our own part? How do we encourage others to do the same?

2) Read Romans 12:16 and 1 Peter 3:8. These passages speak about the unity—one mind, one purpose—and the humility we should live by so we may live in harmony. How can we live with one mind, one purpose? How do we humble ourselves?

 

Handle with Care is a 6-week series focused on studying God’s Word and responding with care. The six weeks of messages may sound like instructions for laundry care — but you will soon find Handle with Care beckons you to examine within, to gauge how you truly love God and love others, and to grow inward and outward. Caring starts with the heart and pours out into the community.

 

 

In the Breach

We can glean a lot from the leadership of Moses. This picture we get of him standing in the breach is one that exemplifies what it means to be a leader. Don’t stop reading with the excuse that you are not a leader. Everyone is leading someone. The question is—do you stand in the breach?

First, you have to know what it means that Moses stood before God in the breach. When you consider a breach, picture a wall. You have a wall for protection. This wall works great so long as it remains intact. However, there are moments when there is a breach in the wall—a breakdown of the wall at some point that makes the wall ineffective. Now whatever you are trying to keep out is now coming through this break in the wall. When soldiers are protecting an area and there is a breach, the soldiers will use their own bodies to stand at the breach to continue to ensure the area is protected.

When we look at Moses and this picture of him standing before God in the breach, we see a leader who is concerned for the Israelites, the people he was leading. Despite their sin, their shortcomings and failures, he cared for the people. He sought for their best interest. He stood between them and God and made his plea of intercession. He recognized their weakness. He recognized their sin, but he did not let that change the way He cared for them. He sought the mercy of God. He prayed for the people.

As a leader, the most important thing is to care for the people you are leading—to love them. Love them like Jesus loves them. Love them with all that you are and love them despite their shortcomings and failures. Look at them as God sees them. Do all you can to stand in the breach. Pray for them. Give them your very best as you pour into their lives. Treat your time with them as precious. Don’t sell them short. Don’t treat them as a number or a task. Seek their best interest always. Love them. Love them like Jesus.

“So he said he would have destroyed them–if Moses his chosen one had not stood before him in the breach to turn his wrath away from destroying them.” – Psalm 106:23 [CSB]

Taste and See

The Bible tells us to taste and see the Lord is good. This is one small step toward God, drawing near to Him to see Him with eyes opened. But it isn’t supposed to be a simple taste. Just as we don’t sit down at a full meal and simply taste a bite of food and walk away satisfied, so it is with our life with God.

Too many people take a small bite of the meal the Lord has prepared for them. Too many people are living life okay to have the assurance that they are saved because of their belief in Christ Jesus, yet the Lord has prepared so much more.

Are you missing the fullness of God because your relationship with Him was only about salvation? Are you not seeking the Lord’s face because you did not recognize His great desire to reveal Himself to you in a personal, intimate way? Are you living life on the breadcrumbs, and missing out on the power, the peace, the joy, the love that God has for you today?

Oh, taste and see, taste and see His goodness. Partake. Enjoy His presence. Rejoice in His provision. Thank Him for His great love. Drink deep of His mercy and grace. Consume His Word. Allow Him to have His way in every area of your life – blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” – Psalm 34:8 [ESV]

Exactly Like You

Something we often all find ourselves doing at some point in life is trying to make God exactly like us. There are many people who have their own personal god who they have created and believe to be God. As Isaiah notes, we cannot think like God. Even so, we tend to believe we know what He would think was best, how He is always going to act, His preferences, etc. If we think a certain way about a person, He must as well. If we lean towards a particular plan or agenda, so would He agree. This is dangerous.

We can only declare what the Word tells us about God. The Bible is Truth. Whenever a statement starts off with, “God thinks” or “God believes,” be hesitant to instantly believe what follows. Seek the truth for yourself. The Bible does provide us with a doorway into the heart of God. Still, we won’t know everything, and we cannot “think for God” and decide what He would say or think or how He would act. He’s above all—and that means you too!

The Psalmist notes in Psalm 50 that the people were thinking that because God was silent, He must be just like the people. He was okay with the sin since He wasn’t chiming in and declaring it wrong. How foolish for us to consider His patience as tolerance or acceptance. How foolish for us to even consider this dishonoring of God would be accepted. But then again, if we look at the personal gods we often construct, it is easy to see we do the same thing.

We are made in the image of God. We share in many attributes of God. Even so, He is holy, perfect, and good at all times. He is not exactly like you. He is awesome, mighty to save, compassionate, and above all. Take some time to get to know Him today. Dig into His Word and get to know the Great I AM!

“When you did these things and I kept silent, you thought I was exactly like you. But I now arraign you and set my accusations before you.” – Psalm 50:21 [NIV]

Observation

As the dogs and I were walking along, I noticed that Marci was walking differently. I picked her up and found something on the bottom of her foot that I quickly removed.

Observation – paying attention – requires us to be intentional. It is necessary to be intentional to understand the needs of the people around you. In this busy world, we often don’t listen when someone is talking with us, because we are trying to contemplate the best answer to the conversation or even thinking about the next task we must accomplish, looking beyond the current interaction. Many times, we are so stuck on ourselves and our goal is to be heard instead of to listen. Also, we are rarely present in the moment, and yet this presence is what is needed to show love and compassion to others. Time is precious, and how you use time is a choice. Do you choose to run around on empty and allow the situations around you to dictate your actions? Do you attempt to be in the moment wherever you are at, being at attention, and calmly following the leading of your Father?

Notice that Jesus was always intentional—always present – and able to understand the needs of those around Him. He spent much time in prayer. He spent much time interacting with people, whereby He invested in their lives, actively listening and engaging in conversation. Conversation, such a lost art today.

Today, be mindful of what is happening around you. Wherever you go, be there. Slow down. Listen for His still small voice. Invest in those before you. Enjoy the people God has put before you, and ask God how you can bless them today to bring Him glory.

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” – James 1:19 [ESV]

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3 [NIV]

False Way of Life

The Psalmist declares hate for every false way of life. Other translations translate this as hating the wrong path or false propaganda. The Hebrew word “sheqer” is used here, meaning falsehood or deception. The complete verse says that the commandments of God result in understanding. When we have this understanding, the result is then hatred towards deception and falsehood.

We can better understand life and move forward living for Jesus by following the commandments of God. As we do this, we grow in our understanding and in our faith. In time, we begin to detest that which is false. God reveals to us His Truth. We aim to live by His Truth. Anything apart from that is no longer acceptable as our eyes are opened.

There are still people today who live the false way of life. Some of these people have always been blind to the Truth, while others have traded the Truth for a lie (see Romans 1:25). Today, pray that God would reveal to you hidden things to grow your understanding. Take some time to pray for those who are still on the wrong path, that eyes may be opened to the deception. Thank God for His commandments who are just, perfect, and true.

“Your commandments give me understanding; no wonder I hate every false way of life.” – Psalm 119:104 [NLT]

Living a Limited Life

When I first moved in the home I currently reside, I remember trying to get all of the utilities installed for the new place. One of the hardest vendors was the trash removal service company. I was asked to haul my trash a far-off distance because the truck couldn’t fit down our road. For years, I have been hauling the trash to this place they directed. This past week, we had a horrible snow storm. The snow blocked the already narrow road, but yet the trash truck came driving down the road—the road it was never supposed to be able to fit.

I’m not complaining about carrying the trash a greater distance; I need the exercise. In life, we find ourselves often limiting what can be done. We forget that we serve a God of the impossible. Instead of taking chances, instead of thinking outside of the box, instead of trusting the Spirit’s leading, we stay in our limited safe place. We trust the lies, that it is impossible. We even speak the lies to ourselves. But in not trusting in God’s plan, we find ourselves living a limited life, and missing out on what God has for us. We don’t think or imagine like God. We cannot grasp what He has planned for us. Yet, He has promised that whatever He has called us to, He will provide whatever is needed to see the task to completion for His glory.

Today, don’t go around placing limits on your life. If God has called you to something, trust Him. You might think that the truck won’t fit down the road—but you are only looking at things with your limited thinking. That road can fill with snow and the truck can get down if God has spoken. You can do all He has called you to do for His kingdom. He qualifies you. He equips you. Press onward. No limits! He is God of the impossible!! All for His glory!

“’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8 [NASB]

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19 [NIV]

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21 [ESV]

Personal Encounter

As I was reading John 20 this morning, I was reminded of the personal relationship I have with Jesus. I was reminded that each of us have a different relationship (or absence thereof) when it comes to Jesus. It all comes down to how we engage with God’s Word and with our Savior. Remember in John 20:20, we find Jesus appears to His disciples and He shows them His hands and side. He shows them His hands and His side. Later Thomas, or Doubting Thomas as many call him, returned. He missed the grand arrival of Jesus, and though the others noted that He came, Thomas would not believe. He said, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand in His side, I will not believe” (v. 25 NIV). Thomas desired a personal encounter.

Jesus appears later, this time Thomas was with the others. The Bible says that even though the doors were locked, Jesus came in. He said, “Peace be with you!” Then He directs Himself to Thomas. He says, “Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe” (v. 27 NIV). Immediately Thomas responds – “My Lord and my God!” Thomas had a personal encounter with Jesus.

We are often hard on Thomas. Yes, he demanded to have this personal moment with Jesus. He demanded to see Him, to touch the nail marks. He desired to look upon the One Who once bled for Him. He desired to reach his hands out and put his finger where the nails once were. He needed to have this personal encounter. Yes, he doubted. Yes, he needed some evidence. Most of all, He needed to encounter the risen Jesus Christ. He needed it to be personal. Remember, once this happened he immediately exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” Today, seek out that personal encounter with Jesus. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you in a new way. As you reach out and grasp a hold of Jesus, may you exclaim, “My Lord and my God!”