Tag Archives: Devotional

The Yo-Yo Lesson


Recently, as an introduction to a lesson about knot tying, we were discussing Proverbs 5:22 in one of the children’s classes I teach. It says,

The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them;
    the cords of their sins hold them fast.

My question (what is this saying?) after reading the verse was immediately followed by that “deer in the headlights” looks from about 95% of the group.

Awesome. Let’s try this again, I thought.

We read it again, and again I asked, “What is this communicating?” I got a couple of answers this time and then the thoughts started coming…

“I think it’s saying the more you get in sin, the harder it is to get out….” Good.

“Oh, it’s kind of like evil will tie you up.” Yes- now you guys are on track…

Then a couple thoughts (and a lot of distractions) later, I noticed the demeanor of one of the girls change… her eyes lit up, she sat a little taller in her chair, and as soon as she made eye contact with me, she raised her hand up in the air. “I’ve got it!” she exclaimed.

“So my brother used to do yo-yo- like A LOT. He would do yo-yo tricks all the time. Well, if he got a knot in the string, the trick just would not work. It just doesn’t work to have a knot in the string. That’s what it’s like for us. If we get sin in our life, it just makes life not work. We can’t do things like we are supposed to. That’s what it’s about. Sin messes us up.”

“That’s brilliant,” I said. There really was not much more I could add to that. I think they figured out the proverb….


Monday


Each week our congregation has avaliable to them a devotional titled “Walk and Talk.” It’s purpose is to give people an opportunity to go a little bit deeper with the lesson from Sunday’s sermon. The readings are generally built off of the core idea from the sermon and the questions, hopefully, guide us into integrating the concept into a life practice.

During the seasons of Lent, we are traveling through the book of John and Jesus’ last week before the crucifixion. The first passage this week is from John 13:21-35 and it contains, what I believe is, one of the most significant statements ever made by Jesus. It is one of those passages from scripture that has been a constant voice in my journey. Have you ever had a verse or passage like this?… That just always seems to challenge you and stand out as extremely important… That is what verses 34 and 35 are to me. They read:

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34, 35 NLT)

I have heard people say that when someone knows they are about to die, that tends to be when they say what is really important. Maybe that is part of why this statement seems so critical to me. It is one of the last instructions that Jesus emphasizes to his disciples before he dies.

I know one of the reasons it stands out to me is because I often wrestle with the question, how is following Jesus any different than just being a good person? How is my life different when I choose to follow Jesus?

This passage gives me an answer to those questions… The way I love other people (especially those who are also following Jesus) should be the difference. This constantly challenges me. It challenges me in both my actions and my attitudes. It is a challenge I cannot get away from and at the beginning of this Lenten week, I am reminded of it again….


Day 27 of 46


We are just over half way in the journey to Easter. It feels to me that Easter Sunday is approaching very quickly. I was thinking this morning about how quickly it really will be here and how I want to be ready to experience as full and exciting as a celebration as possible when Easter does finally arrive. Today’s passage is helping me in preparing.

I think to fully experience the joy and the excitement of Easter, I must first sense the gravity of my sin and the greatness of God’s grace. This is what Paul is after in Ephesians 2:1-10. I would encourage you not to just read through the passage, but to linger in it… allow it to focus your heart on who we are, who God is, and who God desires us to be.

Ephesians 2:1-10

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. 


Sin and Death


We are entering the fourth week of Lent. Again, it is a journey towards Holy Week when we were remember the death of Jesus and celebrate His resurrection. It is a time for us to prepare for that week; to really reflect and consider our condition so that we can truly celebrate what Christ has done for us. Here is what I read today to help me reflect:

For some Christ-followers, sin and death weave so familiar a narrative that we’ve become numb to their sting. For others of us, the wages of sin and our subsequent spiritual death weigh so heavily that we refuse to accept God’s gracious mercy.
The balance in which God calls us to rest is our certainly dissatisfied with both extremes. As we begin to understand our current spiritual story through the eyes of Christian history, we grieve as we own the sins of humanity yet rejoice with the saints in the climax of our shared salvation story.(Holy Bible: Mosaic)

I don’t ever want to take lightly the story of salvation!

Today’s scripture passage is from Luke 15:1-32. As you read, consider these things… What parable do you identify with? How do you see the interplay between our sin and God’s salvation? What stands out to you? What does it mean for you today as you reflect on sin, death, and God’s salvation?


Desperate Need


Today’s passage in from Genesis 2:4-3:24. It is a rather depressing account. It is so early in the story of God and everything is falling apart.

As I read it, I was overwhelmed with my desperate need for a savoir- for someone who could help free me from sin and it’s curse. Here are a few things to think about as you read:

Do I realized the gravity of the sin that is in my life? How do I see the effects of sin and it’s curse in my life and the world around me? Do I see my desperate need for a Savior?

“All God’s plans have the mark of the cross on them, and all His plans have death to self in them.” E.M. Bounds (1835-1913)


Four Days In…


Today is the fourth day of Lent. Four days into a journey of sacrifice and reflection. Here is today’s passage along with a quote I read. It is early in the journey, these readings caused me to pause and reflect on the purpose of sacrifice and reflection during Lent…

Matthew 4:1-11

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.

During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say,

   ‘People do not live by bread alone,
      but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say,

   ‘He will order his angels to protect you.
   And they will hold you up with their hands
    so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”

Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the LORD your God.’”

Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.”

  “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say,

   ‘You must worship the LORD your God
      and serve only him.’”

  Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.

“It’s difficult to grasp what our sense of entitlement does to our bodies and souls. Our culture worships at the feet of pleasure. As we ‘shovel it in,’ we can become desensitized to our needs- the realhungers in our lives. Observing Lent can help us wrestle with the causes of our perpetual consumption. When we decide to relinquish what fails to truly satisfy, we come face-to-face with some tough questions. Can we believe Jesus when he says, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’? How can we make room for the Savior in our lives?” (Eileen Button, “Holy Sacrifice,” Holy Bible: Mosaic.)

That is the question I have been wrestling with leading into Lent and have continued to consider this week: How am I making room for the Savior in my life? I just keep thinking along those lines. Am I using my sacrifice during Lent to create space to be filled by Jesus? Or is it just a practice?… I am discovering a lot about my relationship with Jesus just by asking these questions, being still, and listening for him in the space I’ve created.


Walk and Talk, Dec. 4th


Remember together!

Start the week by remembering the Big Idea from Sunday and the spend time memorizing the scripture focus. Put the memory verse in a place that your family will see it through the week.

Big Idea: Peace – I am free from anxiety because things are right between God, myself, and others.

Memory Verse:  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Read Together!

Spend time each day reading the passages for the week.

Day 1: 2 Corinthians 13:11-14

Day 2: Isaiah 9:2-7

Day 3: Psalm 23:1-6

Day 4: Micah 4:1-5

Day 5: Isaiah 35:1-10 (This passage will help prepare you for Sunday morning.)

Talk together!

Discover biblical truth by talking together about the scripture.

What good things have you seen this week? What do those good things show you about God’s character? After reading the passage, is there anything that helps you remember or know who God is? What do you learn about Jesus from the passage? How does the passage influence or change or shape your thinking? What do you think Jesus wants you to learn from the passage? Is there something that Jesus wants you to do today?

Pray together!

Recording praises and requests in a journal will help you (and your family) continually recognize what God is doing!

As we prepare for Christmas through Advent (the “coming” of Jesus), what can you praise God for? What specific ways are you praying for your family and friends during this season?

Pray God’s will for your child, your friends, your family, by praying scriptures. Insert someone’s name in the blank as you pray.

“May you keep ___________ in perfect peace, as his/her mind is kept on you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

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