Weekly Devotions

Set My Heart On Fire

God shares with us, His disciples, an important command in Romans 12:11. Scripture says, “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” Do you ever feel slothful in zeal?  Here, Paul is talking about feeling sluggish in your relationship with God.  He’s describing a feeling of laziness, a lack of desire.  Do you ever feel like your spirit is anything but fervent? The word fervent here is better translated as “boiling over.”  Do you ever feel like your spirit is more like stagnant water?  Let’s look today at how we as followers of God can stir up our affections for the Lord.  Let’s make space for God to put fire under any area of our spiritual life that feels stagnant that it might boil over in Him.

Foundational to understanding Romans 12:11 is the knowledge that God will never ask you to do something or be something without His help.  You are never alone in your spiritual growth. Your job is simply to create space in your heart for God to mold and shape you. Your job is to engage with Him and let the Spirit teach, lead, and fill you. Your heavenly Father is near to you.  He has a perfect plan to guide you into spiritual growth and fervor. So, in light of that understanding, how can you engage with God and allow Him to mold and shape you into a person of greater fervor and zeal?

Psalm 19:7 says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.” And Psalm 19:8 says, “The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.”  Scripture makes clear that to be zealous and fervent in your service to God, you must spend time allowing his word to inflame your spiritual fire.  Spending time reading about the depths of God’s love for His people, the length He will go for you as His child, and the example of lives empowered by the Spirit will assuredly fill you with passion and zeal.  When you spend time in God’s word, you are not only reading incredible stories, but hearing the voice of your living and active heavenly Father.  Spend time in His word, allowing the voice of God to direct your soul to finding its rest and passion in Him.

When you spend time with God, you will naturally be filled with a desire and passion to serve Him.  Reflect for a moment on how different you feel when you are inflamed with passion in comparison to feeling slothful. You have the power to choose how you will live life every day.  You have the choice to engage with God, read His word, spend time in His presence, and allow Him to mold and shape you.  You also have the choice to live a passionless life.  The choice is yours.  But know God is faithful to fill you with His spirit everyday if you will make space for Him to do so. 

He has total grace for the times you feel sluggish; at the same time He has a  perfect  plan  to  lead you  out of  that  state  into being “fervent in spirit.”

Engage with God today in prayer.  Meditate on His word.  Let him fill you with the power and anointing of His Holy Spirit.

The Message translates Romans 12:11 as saying, “Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame.  Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant.” May you experience today the life of a “cheerfully expectant” person “fueled” and set “aflame” by the love and leading of God.

                                                                          ~ Pastor Greg

 


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How to Help Someone Find Hope and Healing—Part 2

Have you ever felt that somebody was a hopeless case?  That he or she was never going to come to Christ?  Maybe it was an alcoholic relative, a drug-addicted parent, or a co-dependent neighbor—someone with a hurt, habit, or hang-up that kept him from knowing God.

But no one is outside Jesus’ reach!

Last week I talked about the importance of small groups in helping “hopeless” people find healing.  From the story in Luke 5 of the group of men bringing their paralyzed friend to Jesus to be healed, we learned three characteristics of a small group that God uses to heal people who others might consider hopeless.  Today we’re going to look at four more:

  1. Persistence: We all get discouraged as we try to reach our family, friends, and acquaintances with the Gospel. But we can’t give up! The friends in Luke 5 didn’t let difficulties discourage them. It didn’t matter that crowds were between them and Jesus. Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
  2. Innovation: These friends dared to do something different. It’s pretty innovative to get up on a roof and tear it apart to get a guy to Jesus. Imagine the mess they made!  Ministry is messy because it involves people.  Small groups that won’t step out of the box won’t be willing to be messy enough to be instruments of healing.
  3. Cooperation: Obviously, these men worked together to bring their friend to Jesus. It was too big of a job for one guy.  It’s the same way with small groups.  People come to Christ more quickly when they do it in the context of a supportive small group.  A supportive community is a powerful witness to God.
  4. Sacrifice: Have you ever wondered who paid for the roof in this story? I think the group of friends did.  They wouldn’t just tear it up and leave it for someone else to fix.  Whether it’s time, money, effort, or whatever, there is always a cost to bringing someone to Christ. Luke 16:9 says, “Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home” (NLT, second edition).  Small groups through their willingness to make sacrifices will be agents of healing in the world.

When will you participate in a small group (or maybe even lead a small group)?  It will make a difference in your life as well as in others.  Let’s change lives!!                                                   

                                                                       ~Pastor Greg


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How to Help Someone Find Hope and Healing, Part 1

No one is outside Jesus’ reach.

 

I believe that small groups are a vital part of helping seemingly hopeless people find healing.  One of the parts I like best about being in a small group is that you can pray for one another’s “hopeless” cases.  We can lean upon the faith of others when we start to doubt.

 

In Luke 5, a group of guys took their paralyzed friend to Jesus.  It’s a great story of a small group of men who took someone in need of healing to the feet of Jesus.  In this account, we find seven characteristics of a small group that God uses to heal.  Today we’re going to look at three of those characteristics, and next week we’ll look at the rest.

 

  1. Compassion:

This man was healed because his friends cared. It all starts with us caring about people who are hurting. Romans 15:2 says, “We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord” (NLT, second edition).  God used these guys because they were sensitive to a friend’s need. And he’ll use us when we aren’t preoccupied with our own needs and start caring more about others than we do ourselves.

 

  1. Faith:

 

The men believed God would heal their friend. Take a look at Luke 5:20: “When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven’” (NIV). It wasn’t the paralytic’s faith that made him well; it was the faith of his friends.  How many people do you know who are so paralyzed they can’t believe in God?  That’s when we have to believe for them.

 

  1. Intervention:

 

These friends didn’t just pray for their friend; they took action as well. It’s not enough just to pray for someone who is hurting and caught in sin. We have to take action. Jesus says in Luke 14:23, “Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full.”  There’s a slew of examples in the Bible of people taking others to Jesus.  Everybody is not a soul winner, but everybody can be a bringer.

 

Who will you bring?

~ Pastor Greg


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SEVEN REASONS TO CONSIDER IN INCREASING YOUR GIVING TO OUR CHURCH.

Knowing our church is a God-centered, gospel-preaching church, I want to encourage you to think about increasing your giving.  Here are some reasons for doing so:

 

  1. The Bible expects us to give cheerfully (2 Cor. 9:7). In my experience—and despite what seems to be a contradiction—we give most cheerfully when we give most sacrificially.  Giving to the work of God brings a joy you can’t experience otherwise. 

 

  1. Many of us get stagnant in our giving.  We too often give the same amount we’ve given for years, without matching any increases in income we’ve earned. We don’t think enough about our giving plans.

 

  1. Many of us give only out of our excess. We give, but seldom miss what we’ve given.  That happens when we give only out of our extra dollars.  

 

  1. Giving until it costs us is a faith statement. When we feel the pinch of our giving—that is, when the sacrifice is genuine—we must trust God in new ways.

 

  1. In many cases, our churches could do more ministry with more funding. I realize some churches don’t budget or spend wisely, but many, many churches handle dollars well; they just need more funds to do more ministry.

 

  1. Our increased giving tells us something about our heart. Reba and I have come to realize that increasing our giving not only provides more for God’s work, but it also helps to weaken the hold that “stuff” has on our lives.

 

  1. Giving more to God’s work likely requires better budgeting and wiser spending.  Many of us waste money at times. If giving to the Lord’s work demands that we think more about how we spend, we become better stewards of what God has entrusted to us.

 

What are your thoughts?  What would lead you to increase your giving?  Even a few dollars more each week can help our congregation accomplish so much more for God’s kingdom.

 

~ Pastor Greg 

 

 


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God Is On Your Side

No matter what you’re going to face this next week, you’re not going to face it alone.  God is with you, he is in you, and he is for you.

Philippians 2:13 says, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (NLT).

“God is working in you.” The word “working” in the Greek is the word energos, from which we get the word “energy.”  God is the energy driver in your life.  You’re not just going on willpower.  You’re not just going on your own power.  God says he will give you the power you need, no matter what you’re facing.

Not only is he in you, he is with you.  The Bible says, I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you” (John 14:18, 20, NIV).  That’s quite a promise!  The Bible says Christ is in you; the Bible says you’re hid with Christ in God; and the Bible says you’re sealed with the Holy Spirit. That means for the devil to get to you, he’s got to get through the Trinity!  That’s a pretty good protection.  That is a great fear reliever.

Not only is God with you and in you, God is also for you. Romans 8:31 says, “If God is for us, no one can defeat us” (NCV).

When a shepherd leads the sheep, there are always guard dogs at the back, nipping at the sheep to keep them moving in the right direction.

The Bible says that the guard dogs in your life are goodness and mercy.  God gives you the things you don’t deserve—that is his goodness.  And, he doesn’t give you the things you do deserve—that’s his mercy.

Do you ever feel the smile of God in your life?  If you don’t, you don’t really know God.  Some people think God is like the angry parent who’s mad at them all the time.  No.  God is for you!

If you want to be happy, you need to get up every morning and say, “God, thank you that you’re going to be with me today, you’re going to be in me today, and you’re going to be for me today.”

Isn’t that great news?  If God is with you, and God is in you, and God is for you, what in the world are you doing being depressed?

                                                              

                                                                                ~Pastor Greg

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CHOOSE POSITIVITY. . .

Although I’ve never spent a night in jail, I did get sent to detention a few times in high school.  I remember the mood I was in.  I wasn’t fit to write anything positive about the world.  My view on the world was fearful, angry, and quite negative.  Not Paul though.

Paul was in chains when he wrote the following verses: “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ” (Phil. 1:12–13, emphasis mine).

What the what?!?  Somehow, some way, Paul was able to lift his head in the midst of his dark situation and see the bigger picture of the opportunities in front of him.  He was convinced that God was up to something, despite his situation.  His chains said that he was useless, facing a dead end. But he did not allow the chains to determine his vision.  Instead, he saw his chains through a panoptic view.  Instead of being limitations on his ministry, his chains now appeared as useful things, indicating that he was blessed and advancing God’s purposes.

The way you see is more important than the tragedy.

The way you see is stronger than any calamity.

The way you see is bigger than the details of the catastrophe.

One of your greatest responsibilities in life, with the influence you have, is to choose positivity about the situation you’ve been handed.  No one has more control over your attitude today than you do.  And as you choose a hope-filled, forward thinking, can-do attitude, you can cultivate more influence than you ever thought you could.  But it begins with choosing positivity, no matter what the situation is. 

“Why am I discouraged? Why am I restless? I should trust you, Lord. I will praise you again because you help me, and you are my God. I am deeply discouraged, and so I think about you here where the Jordan begins at Mount Hermon and at Mount Mizar.” (Psalms 42:5-6, CEV)

                                                                       ~Pastor Greg

 


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