Sunday Devotional: Colossians 4:2-4

“Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving.  At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the message, to speak the mystery of the Messiah, for which I am in prison, so that I may reveal it as I am required to speak.” (Colossians 4:2-4)

Paul in his letter to the Colossians made a point to not only encourage them to keep on in their faith but to also remind them that they’re not alone.  Prayer is such a key part to this.  Paul knew personally of the power of prayer and wanted to encourage them to be about prayer.

Sometimes it’s hard to pray whether it’s because we don’t know what to pray for or we get discouraged by not hearing a response.  But Paul reminds them (and us) to devote ourselves to prayer and to do it with thanksgiving.  Of course when we pray for others that is a great way to remember the power of prayer and to encourage others.  Paul needed the prayers as he was continuing on his work.  There are many out there who are doing the work that could use the prayers for doing the work of Christ.  And they in turn are praying for you and your faithfulness for serving God.

This week let us all be in prayer.  Let us devote ourselves to it and may we all be growing closer to the Lord as we do.

Sunday Devotional: Luke 6:27-36

“But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also. And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either.  Give to everyone who asks you, and from one who takes your things, don’t ask for them back.  Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them.  If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.  If you do what is good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners to be repaid in full.  But love your enemies, do what is good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is gracious to the ungrateful and evil.  Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.”  (Luke 6:27-36)

Jesus shared this words to His disciples as well as the large crowds that gathered to hear Him speak.  These words are a part of His Sermon on the Mount (also found in the book of Matthew).  He made a point to tell His disciples that being a follower of Jesus meant loving others even your enemies.  Loving one’s enemies goes against what people think and feel.  People who are one’s friends are to be loved, people who are one’s enemies are to be hated.  But Jesus made it a point to so say “love your enemies” and to bless them.

When He said this, there was no guarantee that the enemy would love back.  In fact, He says to “expect nothing in return”.  Those enemies may keep on hating, may keep on taking, may keep on being ungrateful and hurtful.  Yet, as followers of Jesus, we are called to love them.

We live in a day and age where divisiveness is prevalent.  Hate is almost celebrated and anger is cheered.  Yet even in the midst of this, Jesus’ calling for us to love our enemies still rings true.  We are still called to love our enemies.  We are still called to bless those that curse us.  We are still called to do what is good and lend expecting nothing in return.  Because that is what Jesus would do and being a follower of Jesus means doing what He would do.

This week let us demonstrate that love to others.  Let us show love and let us show mercy.  This world needs that desperately.

Thursday Quote Day: Christian Wiman

For this week’s “Thursday Quote Day” here is a quote from poet Christian Wiman:

“I am a Christian because of that moment on the cross when Jesus, drinking the very dregs of human bitterness, cries out, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ … He felt human destitution to its absolute degree; the point is that God is with us, not beyond us, in suffering.”  (Christian Wiman)

Sunday Devotional: Ephesians 5:1-2

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  (Ephesians 5:1-2)

Paul, in his letter to the church in Ephesus, wanted to encourage and exhort the people there (as he would at all the churches he helped to plant).  In this part of the letter, he wanted them to be “imitators of God”.  In the verses just prior, Paul said to “be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

To imitate God is to show grace and mercy.  God has shown grace and mercy to us through His son Jesus.  Jesus loved us so much that He gave His life as a sacrifice for us even though we did not deserve it.  He loved us so that we wouldn’t have to remain in sin but that we could be forgiven of our sins and adopted as children into the family of God.

This week let us walk in love.  Let us be imitators of God.  Let us show grace and mercy to others.  Let our words be spoken with truth in love.  And let us share the good news of Christ to a world that needs to hear this good news.

Sunday Devotional: Proverbs 15:1

“A soft answer turns away wrath,
    but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

Solomon was one of the wisest men who ever lived.  He talked in Ecclesiastes how there is nothing new under the sun.  One thing that has constantly been with us (due to our sinful nature) is our use of words to hurt people.  In this day and age it is prevalent in social media.  We see instances over and over again of how harsh words hurt people.  “Trolling” has become a phrase that is unfortunately well known by many.

Even in Solomon’s day, harsh words hurt people and stirred up anger.  But a soft word turns away wrath.  A kind word can make a whole lot of difference in someone’s life.  The apostle James in his letter to fellow believers talked about how the tongue can do so much damage if left unchecked.  In our sinful nature our words can cut to the core if not used wisely.

But as followers of Jesus, we are called to use our words to bless people.  We are called to praise God and to show love and kindness to others.  When a harsh word is given to us, we are not to respond in like manner.  We are to give a soft answer in response.  It can be difficult sometimes given how we still have a sinful nature inside us but we do have the Holy Spirit working in us making us more like Christ.

This week, let us show Christ’s love through our words.  Let us give that “soft answer” and if a harsh word is given to us, let us forgive and show love in response.  Christ has forgiven us for our harsh words, let us do the same.

Sunday Devotional: Isaiah 43:18-19

“Remember not the former things,
    nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.”  (Isaiah 43:18-19)

It is January 1.  It is a new year.  There are new chances and new opportunities.  When a new year rolls around there is a feeling of optimism for what is in store.  It is important to remember as the calendar turns that God has something in store for us.

Here in these verses, God is speaking to the prophet Isaiah.  He is giving Isaiah these words to share with the people.  God is constantly at work.  He is doing “a new thing” in which He wants the people to join in and participate.  He wants them to trust Him as He makes a path for them.  Even in those times of going through the wilderness or desert, God will provide.

This year, let us look ahead for what God has in store.  Let us be excited about the new thing that He is doing in us and those around us.  And let us follow Him this year like never before.