Today’s devotion is hard to write. I must admit that as a pastor, this verse is one I think upon often. One day I was hit with this overwhelming truth—that my actions—my words and my deeds – could cause someone to stumble and fall. This great responsibility caused me to reevaluate everything. I asked the Lord to please reveal to me if I am being a stumbling block, and to give me the wisdom and discernment to not get in the way of His work and His people. I was deciding “instead to live in such a way that (I would) not cause another believer to stumble and fall.” This doesn’t mean I haven’t done it, but that I pray for more of Him and less of me. I pray that I can live in such a way to embrace and encourage others on their walk, pointing them to Jesus, speaking life, equipping the saints for His kingdom.
Fall on your knees today and seek the wisdom and discernment so that you, too, will not cause another believer to stumble and fall. Seek out the best interests of others. Live with the eternal perspective. Today, decide to live in such a way that you build others up, that you show the love of Christ, that you reach down and raise up. This is grace. It is the same grace that God has shown us when He reached down in our broken world, and through Christ Jesus raised us to new life. We are now co-heirs with Christ Jesus. Live in such a way.
“So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.” – Romans 14:13 [NLT]
Pharaoh thought that Moses and Aaron were distracting the people. When Moses and his brother went to Pharaoh to ask for the Israelites to be released, it was seen as something that would distract the people from their work. But as we consider God’s people, it is important to remember that this work they were doing for Pharaoh was not what they were meant to continue.
The Israelites were enslaved in Egypt. God’s chosen people were enslaved in Egypt. This was not what God had planned for His people. Sadly, the people strayed and this was the consequence. Even so, God planned for redemption for His people. The true distraction was sin and the consequences of sin.
Sometimes we think some things are distractions when, in fact, other things are the true distractions. Today, ask the Spirit to reveal any true distractions in your life. Stay focused on the Kingdom work.
“Pharaoh replied, ‘Moses and Aaron, why are you distracting the people from their tasks? Get back to work! Look, there are many of your people in the land, and you are stopping them from their work.’” – Exodus 5:4-5 [NLT]
Did you ever consider yourself a soldier? If you are a believer in Christ, you are part of the body of believers. You are a soldier for Christ. You are enlisted by your heavenly Father. Your aim, as a soldier, is to please your Father Who enlisted you.
Paul tells Timothy that “soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life.” In doing so, they are not able to please their commanding officer—their Officer Who chose them. Those focused on civilian life can never please He Who is building a Kingdom that is out of this world.
Today, consider if you are solider for Jesus Christ. If you are a soldier for Christ, ask yourself what affairs concern you. Are you concerned with civilian life? Are you concerned with the Kingdom life? If you get tied up in civilian life, you can never be an effective soldier. An effective soldier stays focused on the commands of their Commander. An effective soldier is focused on the mission.
“Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.” – 2 Timothy 2:4 [NLT]
It is so easy to lose sight of our purpose on this earth. It is so easy to get caught up in worldly things. Look around you and you’ll find out that you are in the world. You are right in the middle of it. Paul spoke of this battle that we each have because we are part of the world and yet we are children of God. In 1 Corinthians he said to “be strong and immovable.” It is not the easiest thing to do in this world. He continued, “Always work enthusiastically for the Lord.” This is where people can get confused.
Many people think that work for the Lord is only serving the church in some capacity; however, there is work that is done outside the church as we do life during the week. The work you do for the Lord is not only when you help out the outreach team or work in the nursery. Whatever you do, you are working for the Lord. As a servant of the Lord, a job at the local department store or hair salon or accounting firm is working for the Lord. You are still a representative of Christ, and there are still opportunities for you to shine the light.
Paul further said that “nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” Understand that a truck driver, a nurse, and a newspaper deliverer can be used by God. Everything you do has use. God can use it all for His glory and to further His Kingdom. When I look back in my life, those who have done the most in my spiritual journey were ordinary people that God used. They did not do anything grand. God took the small gestures and used them as only He can, and I can personally agree that nothing is useless.
“So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58 [NLT]
When I was walking my dog this morning, there were tons of ants gathering together on the sidewalk. My dog Max decided to walk around the ants in an awkward way to be sure to avoid them all. It was quite humorous to see a 75 pound dog trying to avoid the tiny ants, but there is great strength in numbers.
Each of those ants is important. Each one added to the number and helped to make Max feel the need to avoid them. Each one played an important role. It is the same way with people. Each person is important. Each person has an important role to play. Sometimes we feel like we like a tiny ant, like we cannot make a difference or that what we are doing does not matter. Do not let yourself listen to those lies.
You are important. You are special. You are loved. And YOU are called to do great things. The biggest problem is that we think of ourselves as a little ant rather than as one of many ants—a large group of ants. We were created as communal beings and we are to be part of a community—one body—the body of Christ. You are not an ant. You are a child of God, a member of the Kingdom of God. And you, my friend, can do great things—great things through Christ.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.” – John 14:12 [NLT]
The other night my children and I sat down to watch “The Looney Tunes” on television. The episode showed Porky Pig and Daffy Duck attending a seminar, “Spread Those Wings and Fly,” which seemed to depict something similar to the many self-help programs that are so easily found throughout the country. The seminar provided Daffy with motivational CD’s to listen to and DVD’s to watch, each one giving him the motivation to learn to fly. When he followed what the program said, taking it a bit too literally, he found that he wasn’t a very good pilot or cut out for the job of a flight attendant. The program caused nothing but frustration to him and to those around him. I think by the end of the show, he no longer had the desire to learn to fly, as ironic as it may sound.
As funny as the cartoon was for the children and I, part of me could not help but think of the many people who attempt to find fulfillment in life by following the “wisdom” shared with these self-help programs. Sadly people spend a lot of money trying to be happier, more prosperous, a better leader, healthier, etc., and yet we are offered a great resource to help us be all that we were created to be without any installment plans. We even can contact the One who is behind it all, the One who created us, and seek Him for the answers we need through His Word and through prayer.
I know life is hard. Life is full of struggles, pain, and obstacles. Life is not easy, but having a personal relationship with God makes it not seem so difficult. No program can help you to see your worth like God can. No program can help you to reach your full potential like God can. No twelve steps, no quick fix, no infomercial, no newly released material can give you what you need like God can. We can be like Daffy, aiming to learn to fly from some program that will leave us frustrated and moving to something else or we can chose to look to God to fill the void we have in life, and seek Him to help us to reach our true purpose—His purpose for our life. Seek Him, and everything else will come. It’s not a quick fix, but it is a true remedy and the only way for find joy.
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” – Matthew 6:33 [NLT]