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Church Devotional TBA

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January 19--January 25

VISION 2020

A 20 DAY FASTING DEVOTIONAL

https://www.church-redeemer.org

 

SUNDAY Too Soon to Quit

  2 Kings 5:14 (NLT) So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child’s, and he was healed!

  You have heard it before—“Winners never quit and quitters never win!” The famous American football coach Vince Lombardi frequently reminded his players of this life principle—you will not win if you quit too soon. 

  There are many victories, breakthroughs, successes and achievements that only come after long seasons of, what seems like, fruitless effort. Tedious research, tireless practice, persistent efforts, patient investment, persevering prayer, long-term labor usually pays off, eventually.

  The sad reality is that many of these pay-offs never come simply because people give up—they quit too soon. Days, weeks, years, decades of working and waiting, with little to show for it, can take its toll on your heart and soul. Let’s be honest, it’s hard to keep going when everything inside you is screaming “quit!”

  While there are times to “throw in the towel” in pursuit of something, there are many more times when we need to “remain in the ring.” Many people “leave and lose” when victory is right around the corner.

  There’s a great story in the Bible that reminds us of the power of persistence, especially in our obedience to God. It’s the Old Testament story of Naaman. You can read about him in 2 Kings 5.

  Naaman contracted the deadly disease of leprosy. He was directed to the prophet Elisha for a miracle cure. Elisha gave Naaman instructions that he did not like. These instructions confronted Naaman’s pride and tested his patience. He was told to go and dip himself seven times in the Jordan River. God promised that in doing this he would be healed. After much protest, Naaman finally agreed to obey God’s instructions.

  It is very important to see that Naaman’s healing happened after the seventh dip. Dips one through six seemed to make no difference in his condition. Nothing improved and nothing changed until Naaman completed his seventh immersion in the muddy waters of the Jordan. But his persistent obedience paid off. On the seventh dip, healing came, breakthrough happen, the victory was won.

  What if Naaman had stopped on dip two, or four, or five, or six? His story wouldn’t be in the Bible. We know about this man because he didn’t quit too soon!

  What about you? What are you about to quit? A job? A marriage? An exercise program? A commitment? A prayer? A _____________________ ? 

  Think hard before you do. Maybe, just maybe, it’s too soon to quit!

MONDAY  Wake Up!

  Romans 13:11, 12 (NIV) And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

  We all know what it is like to hear an alarm clock sound at the appointed time each morning. When the sound of our alarm clock reaches our ears each morning it’s a declaration that a particular time has come. It’s time to arise and prepare to fulfill the responsibilities that are scheduled for our day.

  In today’s verses the Apostle Paul reminds us of the critical nature of the days in which we live. He gives us a three-point call that should direct our thoughts, attitudes and actions every day. 

  First, we are called to “understand the present time.” He describes the present time as an hour when “our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” In other words, the present time is the time when the consummation of all things, the Second Coming of Christ is approaching. 

  With this in mind he gives us a second call, “The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber...” Because that day is rapidly approaching we cannot afford to spend our days in spiritual slumber. It’s time to rise up from our sleep and decide to seriously serve the Lord.

  Third, if we are going to effectively serve the Lord we must be properly dressed for our responsibilities and challenges. He reminds us that we are to take off a certain set of clothes and put on another. We are to “put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” We are to be prepared for “that day” putting on the right clothing!

  We are called to awaken to the reality that Christ is coming again. It’s time to awaken. It’s time to seriously consider the priorities of our lives. It’s time to take off the “deeds of darkness” and be dressed in the “armor of light”, prepared to win each battle against the influences of the world, our flesh, and the attacks of the devil!

  Consider making today the day that you wake up to the alarm clock and give your life completely to God.

TUESDAY  Strategic Living

  Genesis 25: 27-34 (NIV) The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was a quiet man, staying among the tents. Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob. Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.) Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.

  Board games are very good at teaching us how to think strategically. Checkers, for example, while less sophisticated, intellectually challenging and time consuming than chess, it still requires a similar skill––strategic thinking. Consistent winners are strategic in their thoughts and actions. They think through the positive and negative implications of their moves before they make them. A strategic checker or chess player is always several steps down the road in their mind. They know where they are going and how they are going to get there. Each move is appropriately considered in the light of the desired end result.

  What is strategic thinking? Thinking is strategic when it goes after long-term goals and advances. Thinking is strategic when it focuses on a bigger picture, a greater purpose, and a positive plan for the future.

  The opposite of strategic thinking is short-term thinking. Short-term thinkers yield to the wants, desires and pressures of the immediate at the expense of the truly important. They are unwilling to invest spiritual, mental and emotional effort and energies in considering the implications of their decisions, actions or attitudes for the future––their future.

  One of the saddest examples of non-strategic thinking is seen in the story of a man in the Bible named Esau. His short-term mindset cost him his destiny. Esau’s failure should cause us to stop and think about the way we are living our lives. All of us sacrifice certain possibilities and potential for our tomorrows when we fail to think and live strategically today.

  Living strategically starts with a goal. In the personal realm, it involves identifying and defining the kind of person we want to become in character and skill in the next one, five or ten years, and setting in motion the decisions and disciplines that are required to get us there. It involves getting rid of habits, behaviors and attitudes that are robbing us of our spiritual, mental, emotional and relational potential, no matter how deep-seated they are or comfortable we are with them.

  Are you a strategic thinker? How would you benefit from strategic thinking?

WEDNESDAY  Favor and Wisdom 

Acts 7:10 (NLT) … And God gave him favor before Pharaoh, king of Egypt. God also gave Joseph unusual wisdom, so that Pharaoh appointed him governor over all of Egypt and put him in charge of the palace.

  God has a unique plan and purpose for your life. There’s a work He wants you to do that no one can do quite like you. Certain resources are essential for effectiveness and success in God’s assignments for your life. Two of these essentials are favor and wisdom.

  In the Old Testament we find the story of a young man named Joseph. God had a plan and purpose for his life. God wanted to use Joseph to lead a nation through a time of trouble. He wanted to use Joseph to establish a safe haven for his family in the midst of terrible famine.

   The story of Joseph’s life is fascinating and very instructive. We see how the dream that called Joseph to his life purpose at 17 years of age was fulfilled many years later. Over these long years, God took this young man through all kinds of situations to break him, mold him, and transform his character. Joseph needed to develop the inner qualities that would make him ready to handle the responsibilities God assigned him.

  After years of walking through refining circumstances designed by God to mature him, Joseph was prepared for his biggest God-given life assignment. He was ready to be used by God as a leader. Joseph was no longer driven by a dream; he was deeply dependent on his Lord.

  The Bible is very specific about the qualities—the resources—that enabled Joseph to be effective and successful in his God-given assignment. Note the two things God gave Joseph that gave him success: FAVOR and WISDOM.

  Favor is the Greek word “charis.” It’s the root word for the English term “charisma.” Favor is the gracious gift of influence, open doors, acceptance, prepared and paved pathways for building meaningful, strategic relationships and experiencing unprecedented positive opportunities. It comes from God and releases blessings to us that we could never accomplish or achieve by ourselves. When we see it and experience it, all we can do is appreciate it, praise and give God the glory for it.

  Wisdom is deep insight, understanding, prudence and incisive perception. It's the right application of knowledge. This too is a gift from God. While we’re told to work hard in gaining wisdom, it ultimately comes from God, who is the Source of all wisdom.

  oseph couldn’t get his job done without God’s favor and wisdom. Neither can we!

  Think about a time in your life you witnessed God’s favor. What did you learn about that situation?

  Here’s a prayer for you: “Dear Lord, I pray for your favor and wisdom to rest on me today. Help me to lean into you and on you. Grant me meaningful and strategic relationships to accomplish your will. Open doors for me that only you can open. By your favor, pave the pathway before me so that your purposes are fulfilled through my life. Grant me the wisdom I need to do the work you want me to do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

THURSDAY  Get Up and Get Going

Matthew 26:75 (NIV) Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

  Have you ever failed at something? Of course you have. We all have.

  You didn’t learn to walk without stumbling and falling. You didn’t learn to ride a bike without some skinned knees along the way. In fact, it’s highly likely that your first attempts at most new things failed. Failure is usually a part of learning, growing, of developing abilities and skills.

  While it’s easy and acceptable to embrace failure when it comes to new learning experiences, we often struggle to get past other forms of failure—failed judgment, failed relationships, failed assignments, failed business. These often leave people with crippling shame and haunting regrets.

  There’s no doubt that some failures are more costly and serious than other ones. It’s also true that certain kinds of failure should be conscientiously avoided. We should never nurse a cavalier attitude about moral and character failures. We should never take lightly the impact of choosing sinful and evil actions over godly and good ones. These mistakes hurt God, us and others. They often carry significant consequences, and rightly so.

  So how does a person handle serious and significant failure? What should their response be to the life mistakes and messes they make? How does a person deal with the consequences of their mess-ups without becoming emotionally defeated and spiritually destroyed by them?

  They must get up and get going again! While the consequences of certain failures have to be understood and appreciated, and messes have to be handled, staying down does no one any good. Rising up, receiving God’s forgiveness, seeking forgiveness from others and forgiving oneself is the way to turn things around.

   The only one who wins when someone stays down is the devil. He loves to pound people with the ugly parts of their past. He specializes in grounding people. He’s a master craftsman when it comes to condemnation. He sells folks the lie that it's all over. He tries to make your failure final.

     Many people in the Bible failed. Did you know that the great Apostle Peter failed miserably? The guy that walked on water messed up! When Jesus needed him the most, Peter denied Him, not once, but three times!

     After Jesus rose from the dead, He went to Galilee and found a despondent, defeated Peter, restored him and got him going again. Not too many days later, after being filled with the Holy Spirit, this same man—Peter—preached the first recorded message of the church and three thousand people gave their lives to Jesus Christ. (See Matthew 26:69-75; John 21:1-17; and Acts 2:14-41.) That’s a major turnaround! Jesus helped Peter get up and get going again.

     How do you handle your mistakes and failures? Do you tend to run to God for forgiveness or walk away in defeat? 

     If you’ve fallen, don’t stay down. Get up and get going again!

FRIDAY  Guarding Against Jealousy   

  Proverbs 27:4 (NLT) Anger is cruel, and wrath is like a flood, but who can survive the destructiveness of jealousy?

     James 3:15 (NLT) For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.

     One of the most destructive forces in people’s lives is jealousy.  Think about some of the folks in the Bible who were damaged or destroyed by it.  Here are a few examples:

     Cain killed Abel partly because of jealousy.  (Genesis 4:3-8)     

Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery because of jealousy.  (Genesis 37:11)

     Korah, Dathan and Abiram were put to death because of their jealously toward Moses and the impact this spiritual poison had on God’s people.  (Numbers 16)

     Think about all the emotional energy that is expended, all the hatred that is spawned and all the relationships that are ripped apart because of the demonic spirit of jealousy. Think about the sibling rivalries, the office politics, the hidden envy that breed distance between people, and the inner turmoil and pain jealousy causes us. It is a high price to pay for something that brings nothing but negativity and destruction into our lives.

     Over the years I have watched jealousy ruin some potentially great people by turning them into small-minded, unproductive, bitter people. I have watched disorder and evil spring up in families, businesses, friendships, and even churches, all because someone gave a place in their heart to the demonic spirit of jealousy.

     The bad news is: All of us are vulnerable to this spirit. The good news is: God can help us avoid and overcome it.

     Here are some things that will help us steer clear of jealousy, or clean it out if we have already been infected by it:

     Own up to it and confess it to God as sin.  Don't justify it.

     Stop comparing yourself and your circumstances with others.  Comparisons always deceive us.  Things look better, fairer, greater for others than for us.  When we are in a comparison mode, we, more often than not, end up feeling sorry for ourselves. Remember, "the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence!"

     Begin practicing gratitude.  One of the greatest antidotes for the poison of jealousy is to purposefully count our blessings and openly express our gratitude to God and others for them.

     Do good to those you are feeling jealous toward.  Force yourself to do and say nice things to them.  You will be amazed at how these actions will counter-attack jealousy in your heart.

     Stay alert to signs of jealousy in your heart.  Jealousy is very subtle.  When we observe distance in our relationships, disorder in our interactions and anger in our hearts it is a good reminder to find out what's behind these reactions.  One possibility is jealousy.

     Make it a priority in your spiritual growth to identify jealousy patterns in your life. Prayerfully ask God to help you overcome those patterns. Let’s ask God to help us live a jealous-free life!

SATURDAY  PRAYER

 

     Ask God to help you this year to keep the importance of staying rooted in His word daily and in keeping with prayer, serving, and living a holy life.

 

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