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: Colossians 1:3-8

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,  since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints,  because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,  which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,  just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.”  (Colossians 1:3-8)

Encouraging one another is so important.  Paul knew this very well.  He was greatly encouraged by the Colossians and their faith.  They heard the Gospel, received it and shared it with others.  They trusted in Jesus and was faithful in following Him and their testimony showed that.  Paul loved to hear this news and encouraged Him to continue to be faithful.

Life is tough.  There are definitely times where there are struggles and hardships.  There are times when one gets beat down.  But the great thing is that God is there.  There is that hope that comes from trusting in Him.  No matter what, He’s there.  I’m grateful for that and I want others to experience that as well.

This week let us be thankful for God’s faithfulness.  Let us be thankful of the hope of salvation.  And let us share that hope with others.

Sunday Devotional: Philippians 1:27-30

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.  For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.”  Philippians 1:27-30

Paul was writing to Philippians to encourage and instruct them.  Part of this was to remind them of the calling they had individually and collectively as a church.  They were doing a great job in being faithful followers of Jesus.  Paul wanted them to keep doing that.  He wanted them to stick together.

He also reminded them that part of being a follower of Jesus was that we have to endure suffering.  Jesus suffered and as we follow after him, we will deal with suffering as well.  But the great news is that He has gone before us and knows what we’re going through.  So as we go through tough times, we can trust we are not alone in that.

So as this week goes along with its ups and downs, let us be encouraged to keep doing good & serving Him.

Sunday Devotional: Esther 4:13-14

Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews.  For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”  (Esther 4:13-14)

Esther is in a tough position.  Her people, the Jews, had been under order of the king to be exterminated.  This was due to the fact that one of the king’s top people, Haman, hated the Jews and convinced the king to sign the order.  But as queen, Esther could not just go to the presence of the king unannounced.  Mordecai tells Esther the importance of her role in this and what she can do.  And he poses the question of whether she was placed in this position “for such a time as this?”

God puts us (or allows us to be) in places and situations for a reason.  Those are opportunities to be used by Him to accomplish what He wants done.  Esther rose to the position of queen so that she would be able to intercede for the Jewish people in a time of threat to them.  As you go about your week this week, think about where you are in this season of life and how God can use you for His glory.

Sunday Devotional: Esther 2:21-23

“In those days, as Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, became angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus.  And this came to the knowledge of Mordecai, and he told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in the name of Mordecai.  When the affair was investigated and found to be so, the men were both hanged on the gallows.  And it was recorded in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king.”  Esther 2:21-23

Mordecai was a faithful follower of God even in the midst of being and serving in a court of those who didn’t.  He honored those in authority but ultimately honored God with his life and his actions.  This event that’s recorded in the verses here was a minor event but would have major implications.  At the time, Mordecai didn’t know this.  All he knew was that there was a threat to the King Ahasuerus (otherwise known as Xerses I) and warned the king about it.  This small act of service would later play a key role in helping the Jewish nation that lived under the rule of Ahasuerus.

Little things do matter.  You never know how the actions you do to serve someone can make a huge impact.  So as you’re going about this week, remember that the little things do matter.  God may use your “small” act for big purposes for His kingdom.

Having a Heart While Not Losing Heart

simple-red-heart

It’s not easy to love one another.  It’s not easy to love one’s enemies.  As followers of Jesus, we are called to that.  It is a calling card of a Christian.  It is what we are to be known by because that is what Jesus is known for.

That involved people and people are messy.  We are messy.  Others are messy.  And sometimes that messiness leads to hurt and pain.  And it’s not fun to be hurt, to be in pain.  After awhile of this, the tendency is to want to shut off, to close ranks, to withdraw, to not feel.  But that is not what should hold us back.  Granted, it’s never fun to be hurt by people, regardless of whether they’re enemies or friends.  But it’s good to remember in those times that Jesus knows what it feels like to be rejected, to be hurt by his enemies and his friends.  But he still loved and cared for those around Him.

The Apostle Paul twice in two different letters to two different churches wrote “Do not grow weary in doing good” (to the Galatians and the Thessalonians).  It’s easy to lose heart in situations where we get beat up emotionally while following Jesus in loving others.  But it’s important to remember that we are not alone.  We have the Holy Spirit, we have fellow believers to lean on and help to love others.  We can continue to have a heart for those around us without losing heart because we as Christians follow the one who gave us a new heart.