When we think about God’s work in our lives, we usually focus on some big rollercoaster moment. But we really get to know Jesus when we’re in line for the rollercoaster. Every day as we pray, dig into his Word, go to work, go to school, sit at lunch, and drive home, we grow in Christ as we take time in our hearts and minds to stand in line with the Lord. The exhilarating rollercoaster moments serve only to show where we are with God. As much as we think the high points shape us, they only reveal how we’ve attended to our spiritual lives to that point. It’s the same with our quiet times. We go into our quiet times wanting the earth to move. But it’s not about the rollercoaster ride anymore. It’s just you and God, and you’re not in it for the buzz of an emotional experience. Think about your best friend. You’re not looking for an adventure every time you hang out with her. You just hang out and talk about nothing and you’re fine. Let’s aspire to be so intimate with the Lord.
Worship is taking God’s best and giving it back to him. This can happen in serving, in giving, in singing, and in admiring his majesty in creation. A butterfly can lead to tears of adoration of a holy God. The idea that citizens of Jerusalem lay palm branches and sang hosannas five days before they screamed, “Crucify him!” shows how quickly we can focus on ourselves. Worship is not praising the God you want. It’s praising the God who is. Worship is what we’re created for, and we’re never more at peace than when we’re doing what we’re created to do. But God didn’t give us worship because we have to remind him of how good he is. God knows he’s holy. He gave us worship as a gift so we can do what we’re created to do and enjoy community with him. A sign of spiritual maturity is when we show that we know the gift is to be given back. May our hearts spill with such gratitude that we’re never hesitant, never bashful to lift our voices to praise to one who gives us a thriving life.
Most believers understand the main spiritual disciplines of worship, Bible study, and prayer. However, a fourth discipline is often overlooked. It’s the practice of community. Community means sharing life with other followers of Christ. Of all the Bible’s descriptions of the church, perhaps none is more appropriate than the “body of Christ.” God’s Word calls us the body of Christ because we are a collection of individual parts grouped into a purposed whole. If God calls his church the body of Christ, what other encouragement do we need to get together and stay together? Even Jesus didn’t do ministry alone. He started the church by discipling a group of men. Similarly, we forfeit a significant part of our growth when we do not join with other believers. Why is community so important? Because one of the primary ways God ministers to us is through other believers. Fellowship is not pizza and Coke after church; it’s the certainty that we’re in something together and that our common faith will keep us going no matter what. Community is an essential part of the thriving life.
In Christ alone who took on flesh, fullness of God in helpless babe. This gift of love and righteousness, scorned by the ones He came to save. Till on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied. For every sin on Him was laid. Here in the death of Christ I live.
Devotion for the week of 8/11/14-8/17/14
I’m writing this based off my limited knowledge on the subject. However, I feel that I do know enough to form my own opinion. If you don’t know what’s going on, allow me to fill you in on the basics. Gaza is a part of Israel. Palestine wants Gaza. Israel doesn’t want to give it to them. Of course that is a simplified description of what’s happening. As a Christian, I have chosen to side with Israel. Many people are against Israel since it is considered by Christians to be God’s promised land-a holy land. When I heard of this conflict between Israel and Palestine I remembered learning about a war between them in the story of David and Goliath. The Bible states that the Israelites were the good guys, on God’s team, and the Palestinians were the bad guys, against God. Goliath was a Palestinian and David was an Israelite. It was through the power of God that David killed Goliath. The conflict spans back that far, and a lot has changed since then. But one thing has stayed the same: the Israelites are still the good guys and the Palestinians are still the bad guys. In Genesis 15: 18-21 God makes a covenant with Abram promising the land of Canaan to his descendants. In Genesis 17: 8 God says that Canaan shall be an everlasting possession for Abram and his descendants. Canaan is now known in part as Israel, but God’s promise still stands. The name changed and the map looks a little different, but everlasting means forever. And nothing can change that. That land belongs to God’s people-to Israel.