Worship God in Every Life Situation

Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together

Free theme of the week: Worship
Chapter reading of the day: Psalm 34

Worship is a loaded word in the American church. Part of the misunderstanding of
worship today is that “worship” is something that only happens on a Sunday or
Wednesday. On the contrary, worship is something that should happen everyday in
every circumstance we find ourselves in. This may seem as common sense or a basic
thought, however, many Christians only worship God when things are going well in life
or only on Sundays or Wednesdays. Biblical worship is worship that permeates every
season of life including the bad ones. Today’s devotion is to encourage you to praise
God in every life season.
Here are some verses to meditate on for this topic:
“I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” – Psalm
34.1
“Do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the spirit, speaking
to one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody
with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord
Jesus Christ to God even the Father” – Eph. 5.19-21
“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for your life” – I Thessalonians 5.17
I want to encourage everyone who is reading this that is going through a tough season
that it’s ok to feel sad, upset, frustrated, etc. The Bible tells us just because we follow
Christ that does not mean our lives will be problem free, actually it says the opposite.
Our lives will become harder because as our lives are conformed to Jesus we live
against the grain of culture and our own sin nature. And other times the trouble we have
in our life is self-inflicted. Regardless of the source of our troubles, God is worthy to be
praised in our trouble.
When problems in life arise the best response we can have is to press into God and
praise him. This is so easy to say and so hard to do. You may wonder “what does it
mean to praise God in seasons of trouble?”. Here are some practical suggestions that
you can use to help stimulate praise when life is hard:
1. Tell God and Jesus “thank you” – You can thank God for anything in your life,
the big things and the small things. When we thank God we stop focusing on our
problem and start glorifying God. Being thankful changes our perspective.
2. Remind yourself of God’s faithfulness in your life – Remembering how God
has moved in your life is important during times that you may not feel or hear from
God. The Old Testament is full of sections where the people of God remember how
the Lord has been faithful to encourage them during present crises (the Psalms
are a great place to start).
3. Remember that suffering that is brought on by following Jesus is an honor
and suffering for his name sake is the mark of a true follower of Jesus. In other words, your suffering is not in vain or meaningless – Suffering from following Jesus is honorable and does not escape God’s notice. When you experience this type of suffering consider it joy because it means that you’re following Jesus in a deeper way than the people around you. God is worthy of our praise not just on a Sunday or Wednesday or when life is going well. But he desires worship in every season of life. Don’t run from God when life gets hard. Praise and worship him through it.
-Jacob Rohrer

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Be Bold with Truth and Love

Acts 4 19 (1)

Acts 4

Despite the change we see in the disciples, the Jewish religious leaders have stayed the same. They continue in the same disbelief they held when Jesus was with them. And because of that, here we see the first of many imprisonments the disciples will endure through the book of Acts. Just as the Pharisees and Sadducees tried to silence Jesus, they will try to continue to restrain his message from his followers. Yet the news of the resurrected Messiah continued to spread.

Despite imprisonments and persecution, the apostles speak out with a growing boldness. We see new converts believing from all neighboring areas. The church that we know, started here and had a passion for what is right and true.

I do not think they were intentionally looking to offend but they were also not afraid to tell the truth if it was offensive. I think today’s church has softened its stance on too many issues to avoid being offensive. There are somethings that we cannot waver from. One being found in our passage today “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

Don’t be the one that rejects Jesus but further do not be the one that is ashamed of the truth either. Go and share the message of Jesus with love – not looking to offend but not wavering from truth if it could be offensive.

-John Wincapaw

What are You Producing?

Matthew 21

matthew 21 19

After Jesus had cleared the Temple of the merchants who were selling things in his Father’s house, Jesus approached a fig tree because he was hungry. Unfortunately for Jesus, the fig tree didn’t have any figs on it. At that moment, Jesus spoke to the tree and it completely withered up. His disciples were amazed by this, and were confused why this had happened. I understand the disciples’ confusion because it took me a long time to figure out why this story was in the Bible. What in the world is this talking about? Why would Jesus choose to wither a tree?

 

After much study, I found that this was a parable of Jesus, although one that was lived out. God’s people that were doing terrible things in God’s Temple were the same as this fig tree; they were not producing any fruit. Because the tree didn’t produce any fruit, Jesus rejected it and allowed it to crumble. The message could not be more clear: if God’s people aren’t producing good fruit, they will crumble and wither.

 

Jesus talked about “bearing good fruit” many different times, but I want to discuss just two. In John 15, Jesus said that we cannot bear fruit without living in communion with him. You cannot produce anything of substance if Jesus isn’t part of your daily life. Just as a branch cannot produce fruit without being attached to the trunk, we cannot produce anything if we are not constantly attached to Jesus.

 

In Matthew 7:15-20, Jesus says that we will know people by the fruit that they produce, whether good or bad. If we see an apple on a tree, we know that it is an apple tree; if we see a pear, we know that it is a pear tree. In the same way, if we see good fruit being produced, we know that person comes from Jesus. On the other hand, if bad fruit is being produced, we know that that person is from somewhere else.

 

So the question for you today is this: “What are you producing?”

Are you producing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), or are you producing the same thing as all the sinners in this world? If you aren’t producing good fruit, it is time to reconnect with the Lord of your life, Jesus Christ. We cannot do it without him.

 

-Talon Paul

Because I Received Mercy

Matthew 18

matthew 18 33

 

There are some things that are not optional for the followers of Jesus, and forgiveness is one of them. Jesus talked many times about forgiveness to his disciples, but he couldn’t be more clear than in Matthew 18:21-35. We not only learn that we must forgive others, but also learn that there are consequences if we refuse, and the reason why we are expected to forgive.

 

Jesus gives his disciples a parable about a guy who owed his master 10,000 talents of money. Now, one talent was equal to about 15 years worth of labor, so this guy owed his master 150,000 years worth of labor. By today’s standards, the average person makes about $50,000/year in the United States; that would be equal to $7.5 billion dollars!!

 

Needless to say, there was absolutely no way that this guy is going to pay his master back. However, he begged his master to be patient with him and give him more time. His master showed mercy on him and forgave everything!! You would think that this guy would be the most grateful man ever and forgive everyone else that he came across, right?

 

Unfortunately, after all of this, he found a slave of his who owed him money (not nearly as much as he owed his master), and refused to forgive his debt as he had been forgiven. Because of his actions, the guy’s master punished him by putting him in prison until he paid back all he owed, which would never happen…

 

This is a stern warning from Jesus for us today. Our debt for sin has been completely removed from us because of Jesus’ sacrifice! Because of that fact, we should be the most forgiving people on earth! Whatever someone has done to you cannot compare with the debt that has been paid for us; we need to forgive freely to all those who ask for it. We cannot bear grudges or hatred for anybody; it is time to let it go.

 

-Talon Paul

The 5 W’s of Coaching the Dream Team

Matthew 10

matthew 10 32 33

 

WHO will go?

Peter

Andrew

James

John

Philip

Bartholomew

Thomas

Matthew

The other James

Thaddaeus

Simon

Judas

 

In today’s reading we observe Jesus delivering the ultimate pep talk to the “Dream Team” – excluding one. (Spoiler alert: by the end of the Book of Matthew it will be abundantly clear that one of these gentleman will be ejected from the team.) This pre-game speech comes on the heels of Jesus overwhelmed with the needs of the people he’s encountered in the past few weeks. He needs help, so he enlists these 12 with quite a rallying cry. They will soon be experiencing “on the job training” and his instructions are enduring.

 

WHERE will they travel?

Jesus makes it explicitly clear just where the “Dream Team” is to deliver his message: the lost sheep of Israel. (verse 5) “Don’t go to the Gentiles or any Samaritan village.” It was not quite time to take this radical message to the other communities. Perhaps Jesus thought the message would be better received first within Jewish circles since prophecies had been foretold for HUNDREDS of years regarding his coming? (Or not.) Doesn’t take long before the hometown crowd turns from cheers to jeers as the game progresses and one of those “Dream Team” players plots to sabotage the whole tournament.

 

WHAT will they say?

“The Kingdom of Heaven is near.” (verse 7) This is the message the disciples are to deliver. They will proclaim this message of power and authority given to them by Christ himself when they demonstrate these actions: 1) Heal the sick. 2) Raise the dead. 3) Cleanse those who have leprosy. 4) Drive out demons.

 

Sure Jesus… Need anything else?

 

As you might imagine, this is quite a directive, and he wasn’t quite done instructing. “Travel light” was just the tip of the iceberg. For the rest of the chapter Jesus spells out what to keep an eye out for. He tells you not to get discouraged even though you should expect to be unwelcomed, flogged, arrested, hated, persecuted, abandoned and lied about by your family, and most likely, killed. Where can I sign up?

 

WHY & WHEN will this occur?

My favorite verses of why this is all to occur shoots from verses 16 & 17. “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Beth Moore, a renowned Bible teacher recently tweeted it best,

“What I think has happened here is that in our discipleship, we are not teaching what is normative in the believing life. When we carry our cross and we follow Jesus, we are walking into a storm. We were told that in Matthew 10 we will be ‘sheep among wolves,’ not wolves among sheep.”

Beth goes on to further tweet that “sheep among wolves” means Christians will be “persecuted,” “criticized,” “imprisoned” and even killed for speaking the truth.

“We have been very proud of the fact that we have not subscribed to a prosperity gospel. But what we have subscribed to is a pampered gospel where we are so afraid of suffering and we are so afraid someone is going to criticize us and hurt our feelings.”

 

Hello. That sounds just like January 15, 2019, and speaks to WHEN. Once again we see that God’s word is timeless and a double-edged sword for all generations cutting to the heart of the problem. Whatever it takes, no matter how unpopular, we must contend for the gospel. Just like Jesus called the disciples to move out of their “comfort zones,” we too must grow a thicker skin. Beth’s final tweet about this subject sums it up:

“All that stands between us & an astonishing work of the Holy Spirit is repentance. Quit being scared of rocking a boat that has run aground on an island of compromise. Walk on water.”  

 

What would our lives and our futures look like if we invested our earthly time and resources into eternal values?  How would you live if you were completely confident that every act of love, service, or unselfishness would carry reward where it mattered (and lasted) most – even if nobody in your neighborhood, church, or community ever noticed? “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward” (Verse 42).

 

We are now mid-January. How many of us have long forgotten our resolutions for the New Year? Jesus was trying to teach his “Dream Team” to not focus on the here-and now. Instead of looking for New Year’s resolutions we can keep, what if we tried finding some that could actually keep us.

Sign me up. Lord, please teach me to play on your team!

-Julie Driskill

Showing your Light through what you Say

Matt 12 33

 

The last few days I have been talking about following the Light which is Jesus, and yesterday I gave an example of how to show our light through forgiving others. I will continue along with another way we can show our light to others. I truly believe that one of the simplest ways people show who they are is through what they say. It can be one of the most obvious ways to show your light in the world and for the world to notice that there is something different about you.

 

Whether it be foul language or gossiping, people will see who we truly are by the things that we say. We have the ability to be a hindering block or a light to those around us. The way we speak can either confirm to people that we are different or that we, as Christians, are just like the world. Jesus makes it clear we are to be different in how we speak.

 

33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.

34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” – Matthew 12:33-35

 

Theses verses warn us that if we put bad things into our hearts and minds they will eventually come out through what we say or what we say about others. We often fall for the lie that what we say and how we talk doesn’t matter that much, but in the book of James we can see just how important it is to watch what we say.

 

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”- James 1:26

 

We want to make sure we are being the light by what we say. We need to make people wonder what it is that make us different from the rest of the world, and I promise you that people will notice!

 

-Luke Elwell

Showing your Light through Forgiveness

 

matt 6 14 15

Yesterday I talked about being the light to the world around us, and how we are to point people to Jesus and to the glory of God. Today I will be talking about a simple way that we can be the light to others and to just be different from what the world and our natural desires tell us to be.

 

Forgiveness: this one can be really tough for a lot of people, myself included at times. But the Bible makes it clear for us, as Christians, as to what we are supposed to do at those times when we feel like we have been mistreated or cheated by someone. The world tells us that when someone does something to us we need to get them back. But when we choose to follow Jesus we need a new way of thinking. Jesus calls us to forgive, but Jesus doesn’t just call us to forgive once, but to forgive over and over again.

 

21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22Jesus answered, “I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven times! Matthew 18:21-22

 

Forgiving others shows the world the light we have inside us, and if we forgive others the world will notice. Forgiving others shows that we have accepted and embraced the forgiveness that God has showed us. I can speak for myself that God’s forgiveness is a lot more than seven, seventy-seven, or seventy times seven times. Paul reminds the Gentiles of this very thing in Ephesians 4:32. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” It’s also a great reminder verse for us today. So show your light today by forgiving someone who you have been holding a grudge against, and acknowledge and accept the forgiveness that God has shown to you through Christ.

 

Matthew chapter 6 —- 14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

 

-Luke Elwell