Weekly Devotions

Our Heavenly Father Speaks Over All His Children

In America, millions of people grow up every year WITHOUT knowing their father, with an absent father, or in a conflicted relationship with their father.  David Blankenhorn has written, “The United States is becoming an increasingly fatherless society.  A generation ago, an American child could reasonably expect to grow up with his or her father.  Today, an American child can reasonably expect not to.  Fatherlessness is now approaching a rough parity with fatherhood as a defining feature of American childhood.”

But fatherlessness is not limited to the literal absence of a father.  Many grow up and live as adults with fathers who are neglectful or detached.  There is a father, but he isn’t present.  When his presence is felt, it’s not full of affirmation and affection. Similarly, others grow up with a father who was physically present but emotionally damaging.  What does it look like for those with a broken image of a father to discover the true and better Father? 

God the Father occasionally revealed himself to Jesus during his earthly ministry.  God shows up to his only Son’s baptism, a defining moment that formally launches his earthly ministry of teaching and healing.

How did God reveal himself as a good and loving Father at Jesus’ baptism?  

When Jesus was baptized, his Father was present.  God was not absent from his eternal Son’s baptism and he is not absent from your own life either. 

The  Father  sent  his  Spirit to make  His  presence  felt. God  was  not  only present, he made sure his Son felt his presence; in the same way, God wants you to know and feel that he is always with you.

The Father spoke words of affirmation—“This is my Son … with him I am well pleased.” God did not remain silent, but voiced his thundering affirmation of his Son.  In the same way, we who are sons and daughters of God take confidence that he is pleased with us too; not because we’re perfect, but because we are one with Christ and his perfect life covers our imperfect lives.

The Father expressed his love and affection—“This my Son, whom I love.”  God is not only affirming, he is affectionate. He loves his Son.  Perhaps you remember many times your earthly dad said, “I’m proud of you.”  But how many times did you hear, “I love you”? 

As he spoke over Christ, so our heavenly Father now speaks over all of his children, “You are my beloved!”

                                                                         ~Pastor Greg

 

 


Read more...

The Revelation of Your Heart

Every time you give, you reveal what matters to you.  Tell me how you spend your money and your time, and I’ll tell you what matters most to you.  Your schedule might reveal that what matters most to you is your children.  Your spending might reveal that what matters most to you is your hobby.

You probably don’t care much about APPLE because you don’t own stock in APPLE.  But if you bought stock in Microsoft, all of a sudden you’d care about the success of that company, because wherever you put your money, that’s where you put your heart.

Philippians 1:10 says, “I want you to understand what really matters” (NLT).

What matters in your life?  Not acquisition.  Life is not about the accumulation of things.  He who dies with the most toys still dies.

Life is not about things.  It’s about learning how to love.  If at the end of your life you’ve got a giant pile of things but you’re estranged from your wife and kids, you’ve missed the purpose!

When you are generous with your time, money, effort, and energy, you’re saying that what matters most is God and people.  What matters most is love.

Paul talks about this in Philippians 3:7: “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.”

How do you break the grip of materialism?  There’s only one way.  The antidote to getting is giving.  So every time you’re generous and give to others or to God, then you are actually breaking the hold of materialism in your life.

“We are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives” (Philippians 3:20a).  Your purpose is not to live for here and now.  You’re storing up for eternity!  You’re not building a pile on this side of eternity.  You’re building into people and relationships that will matter on that side of eternity.  You’re living in light of heaven.

A generous spirit has nothing to do with how much money we have but rather how much the Lord has of us.  When we are fully surrendered to Him, He provides the grace we need to share whatever we have, whether time, treasure, or talent.  That’s what really matters.

                                                                           ~Pastor Greg

 

 ~ Pastor Greg

 

 


Read more...

Getting Your Mind Together, Part 2

How Do You Focus Yourself In The Spirit?

First, you have to make time to open your mind and heart to Scripture every day.  The best time to experience renewal in your mind is when you first wake up.  Every morning, you can lay the foundation for what you will believe and how you will think for the rest of the day.

Second, you have to read Scripture while listening to the Holy Spirit.  Scripture will come alive when you spend time reading it with the guidance and teaching of the Spirit.  In John 14:16-17 Jesus says, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”  Spend time allowing your Helper, the Spirit of Truth, to reveal the ways in which He desires to apply Scripture to your life.  Ask the Holy Spirit to be your Teacher as your read.

Third, you have to live in obedience to God’s word.  The Bible isn’t merely historical, but a book full of practical and applicable truth that has the ability to change your life.  When you open your heart to God’s word and choose to believe it, you will experience transformation. When you obey God’s commands, they will bear incredible fruit in your life.  God’s word is meant to direct you to the abundant life He has planned for you.  Have faith in the words of Scripture.  Choose to believe God’s promises.

Last, you must see yourself in light of God’s word.  You have the choice to believe God or not.  The Bible says incredible things about your identity in Christ: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).  The Bible says that you are God’s child, that you are worth the death of Christ and that you are free from the bondage of sin and the world.  Those are powerful promises.  But in order for you to experience the fullness of what Scripture says, you must renew your way of thinking to be like God’s. Paul says that “we have the mind of Christ” as people born of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:16).  So set your mind every day on the things of God.  Read Scripture with the help of the Spirit, walk in obedience to God’s word, and see yourself as God does.  If you will do these things daily, your entire outlook on life will be one of contentment, joy, purpose, and abundance.

Where do you need to renew your mind today? What area of your life seems to be plagued by negativity, insecurity, or anger? Spend time reading God’s word with the Holy Spirit. Receive revelation from the very God who authored the word you’re reading. Meditate on the words that stand out to you, and allow them to change the way you think, feel, and act. Experience renewal today in your way of thinking, and  watch  as  renewing  your  mind  changes  your  entire  day for  the

better.

                                                                                      ~Pastor Greg

 


Read more...

Getting Your Mind Together, Part 1

The mind is the vehicle in which thoughts and ideas become emotions, beliefs, and actions. You hear things every day that attempt to influence the way you see yourself and your life.  Advertising tells you that you are constantly in need of something bigger and better to be happy.  People tell you who you are and what you should do based only on their limited perspectives.  You also have a very real enemy who hates you, working to convince you that you aren’t worth love, you’re good at nothing, and you’ll never amount to anything.  But God, because of His incredible love for you, has given you the Holy Spirit and His word.  He’s given you the ability to renew your mind to the truth of how He sees you and feels about you, the truth of who you really are.  Every day, you have the chance to experience the much-needed renewal of your emotions, perspectives, and beliefs.  Every day, God longs to speak the truth of your identity through His word and Spirit.

Romans 12:1-2 says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  When we renew our minds we are presenting ourselves as worship to God.  You worship God when you choose to believe His word over others’ words. You love God when you trust Him over your feelings and limited perspective.  And when you renew your mind, you are conforming no longer to the world, with its destruction and many lies.  God puts conforming to the lies of the world and renewing your mind to the truth in stark contrast.

Romans 8:5-6 further illustrates the point: “Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” When you set your mind on the Spirit, you will begin to experience life in your thoughts. Your way of thinking will be transformed from being negative and destructive to positive and responsive to God’s boundless love and grace. What you choose to trust and believe will impact every area of your life for either good or bad.

So in light of the incredible promises of God’s word, how can you experience the fruit of renewing your mind? How can you continually set your mind on the things of the Spirit?  Find out how in part two of getting your mind together in next week’s article.

                                                                                                        ~Pastor Greg

 

 

 

 


Read more...

When We Are Overwhelmed—We Need Each Other

It happens every weekend.  When congregations gather for worship our pews/chairs are filled with members who are filled with anguish but aren’t talking to many people.  My  research  may  be  anecdotal, but  I’ve learned  several  reasons  that  explain this reality: 
 

Some folks are embarrassed by their problems.  Whatever the issue is, they’d rather hurt alone than risk anyone knowing what’s going on.  Too often, they assume that others will look down on them if they knew the details.

Some are simply loners who fight their battles alone.  They may not even let their own family help them—much less their church family.  They don’t need anyone else, they think.

Some are hurting too badly to talk to anyone.  Maybe they’ll talk at some point, but not now. Only tears come now, especially when the heartache is fresh.

Some don’t trust us as pastors.  I don’t like to admit this reality, but I can’t ignore it.  It takes getting burned only once before you hesitate to ever again be honest with a church leader.

Some view pastors as too busy to bother.  Some members think this way out of respect–“My pastor has so many burdens.  I don’t want to be another one.”  Others assume they simply won’t get any of their pastor’s time.

Some are still non-believers trying to figure out life.  They’re looking for answers, but they haven’t come to the place to trust Christ with their life.  Nor are they yet ready to talk to a church leader.

Some are hanging on to sin that’s destroying them on the inside.  In a strange way, they’re clinging to idols that bring them nothing but secret shame.

Some are just overwhelmed by life.  If you ask them to tell you what’s bothering them, they don’t even know where to start.  It’s so complicated that it’s just easier to keep it to themselves.

Some are leaders who don’t want others to know their weakness.  Few people have ever seen them struggle, and they’re not about to be that vulnerable now.  Their church reputation is at stake.

Sometimes we’re the hurting one. And we bear burdens alone rather than invite anyone in to help share the weight.  Somehow, we don’t do what we tell others to do:  let our brothers and sisters walk with us. 

The truth is … we need each other.  Life is tough, but we can triumph over it together!                                            ~Pastor Greg

 


Read more...

Heaven Changes Everything About the Way We Live Today.

“If they had wanted to, they could have gone back to the good things of this world.  But they didn’t want to.  They were living for heaven.  And now God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has made a heavenly city for them” (Hebrews 11:15-16 TLB).

Heaven changes everything about how you live today.  If you’re headed to Heaven (and I hope you are), then that reality should impact how you live here on Earth.

My mother taught me well.  She was an amazing Christian lady who held on to her faith in difficult circumstances and is today with our God.  She had a value system that focused on everlasting life.

When Heaven is your focus your value system changes.  Instead of living for the here and now, you’ll live for eternity.  You can also live knowing your future is sacred.  No matter what happens on Earth, you’ll spend an eternity with God in a place more amazing than anywhere you’ve ever been in this life.

So how should you live if you know your eternal destination is Heaven?  My mother lived in such a way that she didn’t allow herself to get distracted or discouraged, but focused on things beyond this life.

 

  1. Don’t be distracted by temptation. “Dear brothers, you are only visitors here. Since your real home is in heaven, I beg you to keep away from the evil pleasures of this world; they are not for you, for they fight against your very souls”(1 Peter 2:11 TLB).  You can be distracted by lots of things — both good and bad.  Stay focused on what’s of eternal significance. Delay gratification.  Our society tries to get you to do just the opposite. Stay focused on what’s ahead. 

 

  1. Don’t be discouraged by trouble. “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever”(2 Corinthians 4:18 NLT).  When you live in light of eternity, trouble just doesn’t bother you as much anymore.  You know troubles won’t last forever, so you simply don’t give up. 

 

  1. Focus your energy on what will last. “Let heaven fill your thoughts; don’t spend your time worrying about things down here”(Colossians 3:2 TLB).  Fulfill the purposes of God in your life. Live a life of worship.  Build relationships with God’s people. Invest your time in becoming more like Jesus through discipleship.  Serve others with abandon.  Tell people about Jesus. Those activities last forever.

 

You were made for Heaven.  If you’ve made Jesus the boss of your life, you’ll spend eternity there.  Let that truth sink in for a moment.  Then let it change your life.

 

~ Pastor Greg


Read more...