Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Devotional: My Past Has Passed

Have you ever thought that your past makes you unworthy to be loved? So many people have thought that because of sins they committed in the past, that they are not worthy to be loved by God or anyone. Well that is a big fat lie!!! When God sent his son into the world, it wasn't with the intention to condemn everyone. John 3:17 says: For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. We are human and are bound to sin, but when Jesus was crucified, all our sins were washed away. Psalm 130:3-4 says: If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared. Our worth is not based on how good we are. God knows our worth, and we are very valuable to him. Matthew 10:29-31 says, "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will or your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." God loves us no matter what we do. His love for us is perfect. 1 John 4:18 says; There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. 1 Corinthians 13 talks all about love and one specific thing it says is that "love keeps no record of wrongs." When you accepted Christ in life, you became a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 says: So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! Even as a new creation, we have flaws, but this should not upset you! 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." God has a plan and purpose for you, and can use your flaws and weaknesses to complete the good work in you. So keep moving forward and know that God loves you NO MATTER WHAT! Philippians 3:13-14 says:...Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Most people don't realize that God has his hand on them, even when they don't walk in him. Saul of Tarsus is a good example. Saul was a murderer, a man who was a killer of Christians, yet God saw him COMPLETELY WORTHY of being his instrument. Acts 9:10-15 says: In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called  to him in a vision, "Ananias!" "Yes, Lord," he answered. The Lord told him, "Go to the house of Judus on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come a place his hands on him to restore his sight." "Lord," Ananias answered, "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all you call on your name." But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel." God gave Saul a new name, Paul, and god used him in a mighty way! Even in sin, God can use us! Ephesians 2:4-5 says: But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in sin- it is by grace you have been saved. When Christ was crucified, our sins were cast from east to west. Psalm 103:12 says:...As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. If God can forgive our sins, and give us perfect love, then would you not forgive yourself? NO ONE is or will be so far in sin that you will be considered unworthy. receive God's forgiveness, and when you have, forgive yourself! If you, a NEW CREATION in Christ, can look on others who have sinned and love them, do you not love yourself enough to forgive yourself? Walk in the knowledge that if God loves you enough to forgive you, then you should love yourself enough to forgive yourself. Philippians 4:7...And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 1:18...I pray also that they eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Devotional: Piece of Steel or Peace Be Still?

"Well peace is always still around me cause I keeps me what they call a 'piece of steel'. Long as you got a piece of steel, you gonna have peace. Load your steel. Thank ya Jesus!" - Madea, Diary of A Mad Black Woman

As much as I love Madea because she can make anyone laugh, she doesn't always have the best ideas (lol). This quote was in reference to forgiving others that hurt you. Sometimes life hands you some trials with others, and so many things can happen when someone hurts you. However, the bible talks about forgiveness quite a bit. Romans 12:19-21 says, "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord. On the contrary: 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." So the first piece of advice that the bible gives is to let God handle it. God can deal with people far better than any of us can. This scripture is also in reference to your attitude. Sometimes when people hurt us, it is hard to just let it go. In fact, forgiveness can be a process. Forgiveness is a choice, not something you base on emotions. You can't base your forgiveness for someone on how you feel, because if so, you might not ever forgive someone. However, when you do something good for someone who hurts you, it can often lead to having the right feelings. So instead of lashing out at someone who hurts you, treat them with love and compassion. It will not only help the person that hurt you, but it will help you as well. Plus, it is also an effective tool in teaching yourself forgiveness. When you choose not to forgive someone, you are teaching yourself to be hardhearted. When you choose to forgive, you are making it easier to learn how to forgive, and it may come easier to you the next time someone hurts you. If you learn nothing else from it, just remember that when you don't forgive someone, they take power over you. When you do forgive someone, you take back that power. No one should have the power to effect your emotions. Though it happens a lot, you can still take back the power through forgiveness.

Now, forgiveness is not something that we keep a checklist for. If you keep a checklist, have you really forgiven someone? Matthew 18:21-22 says: Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you not seven times, but seventy-seven times." When Jesus said this, he did not mean literally ONLY seventy-seven times. When he said this, he meant for no one to set a limit on how much you can forgive someone. This scripture goes hand in hand with this scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:5, " keeps no record of wrongs." Now, "it" refers to love. Love and forgiveness go hand in hand with each other. Without love, how can you forgive someone? So when someone hurts you, forgive them and move on. Don't keep track of how many times a person hurts you, because if you do, can you really call that forgiveness?

If you ever find yourself in a conflict over forgiving someone, pray about it. The heart is deceitful and cannot always be trusted, as talked about in Jeremiah 17:9. So this is where this particular scripture comes in... Mark 4:39 says, "Peace! Be Still!" When you read this particular phrase in the bible, it was referring to Jesus calming the storm when the disciples were out on the water. However, it can be used in the case of your heart. If you find that there is turmoil in your heart over what someone did to hurt you, simply say to your heart, Peace! Be Still! If it can work for calming the wind and waves, surely it can work for calming the storm in your heart.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Devotional: All For One and One For All

What's in a name? A rose called by any other name would smell as sweet... That which we call a rose still blossoms and blooms the same way even if it were called something else. This same thing could apply to the body of Christ. For many many years, there have been many thing that "supposedly" differentiates members of the body from other members. For example, some believe it is wrong to eat meat. Some believe the Sabbath is on Sunday, and others on Saturday. Some have home churches, and some have a large church building. Some believe in speaking in tongues, and others don't. It is things like this that create dividing walls. People get so focused on the "little details" that it's easy to seclude yourself from the rest of the body. While there will always be division for one reason or another, it's always important to extend the hand of acceptance to those whose beliefs may slightly differ from yours. John 10:16 says, "I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd." Though we may not all be in the same sheep pen, we all have the same shepherd. I have used this next scripture in a previous devotional, but it can be applied here as well. In 1 Corinthians chapter 12, it talks about spiritual gifts and different parts of the body. The key lesson in this chapter is that as a body, we all have different gifts and make up different parts of the body, but nevertheless, we are one. 1 Corinthians 12:13 says, "For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body- whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free- and we were all given the one Spirit to drink." Here is a good example of what I am talking about. Matthew 15:21-28 says: "Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, 'Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.' Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, 'Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.' He answered, 'I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.' The woman came and knelt before him. 'Lord, help me!' she said. He replied, 'It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs.' 'Yes, Lord,' she said, 'but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.' Then Jesus answered, 'Woman you have great faith! Your request is granted.' And her daughter was healed from that very hour." Though this woman was not one of the lost sheep of Israel, she believed in Jesus and had faith, so he helped her.

Before Jesus was arrested, he prayed for himself, his disciples, and all believers. In praying for all believers, his desire was for us to be unified. John 17:20-23 says, "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May the also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be on as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." Though none of us are perfect, let's tear down the dividing wall of seclusion and be the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:1-6, "As a prison for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit- just as you were called to one hope when you were called- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."

Monday, April 2, 2012

Devotional: What Time Is It?

This devotional is rather short this time but the message is quite simple. Do you ever wonder about why you are in a certain place in your life? I know on many occasions I have wondered why I am where I am. The answer is simple. God wants us to complete this good work in us, and in order to do that, he places us where he wants us to be. Whether it be for a long time or a short time, God has a season for everything. Ecclesiastes 3:1-6 says, "There is a time for everything, and a season for everything under the heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and I time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for peace and a time for war." God takes us through certain seasons and times in our lives to get us to where he wants us to be. So just trust in him...that he will take care of you no matter what season you are in!