Devotionals - Part 1

Who's Your Master 

“Well, we all know that an idol is not really a god and that there is only one God and no other.”  1 Corinthians 8:4. NLT

I'm going to get real honest here. I consistently exercise. In fact, I usually run four to five times a week. My long runs are typically accompanied by a long stance in the mirror holding my shirt up to see if any progress is being made. I don't get on the scale too often because it can ruin my day if I don't see what I want. When I can't work out because I am sick or something I get nervous. I often feel either good or guilty about the food I eat in a day. Borderline obsession? Ya think? In the past when it was real bad, I can recall forfeited activities with friends, responsibilities and even my quiet time to get my workouts in. Sometimes I am real obsessed with it and sometimes i am not. I would have to say when I am not so focused on my body image is when I am focused on the Lord. 

Somewhere along the way, I began to let something else have mastery over my life. But is it worth losing the control of the Holy Spirit over my life and losing peace? No! And besides, my body will never be good enough no matter how many goals I meet. The enemy always finds a way to make you believe the grass is greener on the other side of a lower pant size. I remember in the past getting so angry when I couldn't get where I wanted to be, or see what I wanted to see on the scale. There was a time when I was extremely controlling over my food and my mother says although I was skinny, I was not nice. ha! How's that for a reality check. This idol had altered my perception, my emotions and affected the relationships around me. 

We are all a slave to something and I have a tendency to become a slave to my “perfect figure” ambitions rather than a slave to Christ. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with having a great workout schedule or wanting to look good, but if it takes the throne of your heart, it becomes more of a hindrance than a blessing. It had become an idol to me. It had control because I gave it control. Idols have no power unless you give it to them. 

 Let’s take a look at a man who observed this type of slavery firsthand. We must flip through the pages of the Old Testament to the book of Hosea. In the book of Hosea, we see that Israel was prosperous, but they had given themselves over to idol worship and forgotten the one true God. They had forgotten who blessed and delivered them from slavery in Egypt!

The nation of Israel had fallen away from God by the wicked counsel of King Jeroboam and the people worshiped a man-made god called Baal, which in Hebrew means master. So Hosea, a prophet of God, was sent to help the people of Israel realize they were guilty of dethroning God from first in their hearts.When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, "Go, and take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord." Hosea 1:2 NIV {See Hosea 1:1-7}

In the text we see that God commands Hosea to take for himself a wife of harlotry whose conduct was an expression of the people. This may seem like a strange request, but God had a reason for it beyond Hosea’s understanding. Hosea symbolically shows Israel their sin through obeying God and taking for himself a wife that is a prostitute, much like the people had debased and devoted themselves to corruption and rebellious living.

Something else had taken over and become master of the lives of the people. It can take on various forms but in the end it is the sin of idolatry. Although they had been freed from the bondage of slavery in Egypt, they put their chains right back on. They walked right back into the jail cell when they decided that God was not enough. Instead of being a slave to righteousness, peace and love; they chose to be a slave to sin and worship a man-made god.

What have you given power to in your life? What have you decided will bring you fulfillment? Idols can be just one smaller pant size, more money, finding a perfect mate, a particular career or maybe it’s you, doing whatever you want when you want? If you are not a slave of Christ then you are a slave to sin because every man is a slave to something. John 8:34 says, “Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin’.”

What has taken such a high position in your life where you have come to the point where its mastery over you is so dominating that you feel you have no opinion or control over it? When we begin to search for anything in this life to fill the void we have in our hearts, that god becomes our Master, our Baal.

Don’t allow anything to master you. Jesus defeated the enemy and the power of evil over your life so you could be free. I dare you to move and take those idols down, take the trophies out of the case and pull down the mind sets that have plagued you for too long! They are worthless idols. Only One is worthy of our utmost worship and praise, Christ Jesus.  

Make Christ your ultimate prize and fight the good fight of faith with the sword of the Spirit, the word of truth. Cling to the word of God and abide in it so the seed will fall on good soil and take deep root in your heart. Then you will bear fruit and be able to stand against any false idols the enemy tries to lure you away to. 

Reflection points:         
 What do I allow to master my actions, words or schedule?

 Is Christ and His purpose in and through my life my driving force?

 What do you think a prophet today would say about your nation?

When you go through out your day I want you to consider the driving force behind your decisions.

Power verses: 
For my people have done two evil things: They have forsaken me--the fountain of living water and they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all! Jeremiah 2:13 (NIV)
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, "You will be made free'?" Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. John 8:30-35 (NIV)

Consult together, argue your case, and state your proofs that idol worship pays. Who made these things known long ago? What idol ever told you they would happen? Was it not I, the Lord? For there is no other God but me--a just God and a Savior--no, not one! Isaiah 45:21 (NIV)

Believing God 

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 NIV)

I prayed about this and gave it to you already God, remember? Why am I still struggling with this area of my life? Then there comes the voice, “You wimp, you fell again, you will never be a strong Christian!" Do you ever find your mind being attacked again and again by the same old thought patterns leading to the same undesirable behaviors? You just can’t seem to shake them, leading to greater frustration because you and God have already dealt with this right? 

Guess what, you’re in a battle! This spiritual warfare thing is not to be taken lightly. Evil wants to take you out because you are a threat when you try to serve and obey God! What a beautiful thing to be viewed as a threat by Satan. That means you are one powerful force and he knows it. His time is short and you are making it harder for him when you daily follow the purposes of God in your life by faith. That's why the Bible tells Christians not to be surprised by the fiery trials you're facing, it comes with the territory of being a disciple. 

You are facing the wind head on and going against the ways of the world, destroying works of evil with the love of Jesus Christ! Evil, and its friend called your flesh, will always try to have you focus on self rather than the love of Christ. Those thoughts contrary to God and His truth will always attempt to disguise themselves as truth. But we are not ignorant of the enemy’s tactics and we know he is nothing but a liar and deceiver. The Bible says he is the very father of lies! You see, I believe one of Satan’s best cards he plays is the one that attempts to convince the believer that he does not really exist and that our battle is against each other instead of his principalities, powers and dominions of darkness.

And because faith is the very catalyst that propels the power of God in your life, guess what Satan wants to steal from you? You got it, your faith! He also wants your joy because the joy of the Lord is your strength. Keep fighting because you will never be defeated in Christ. Refuse to give in to the lies of the enemy. Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Choose to believe God’s truth. You can believe God for great things and that is what you must do to win this battle. Read His word as if it is your daily bread because you will be weak and starving spiritually without it. 

I'm preaching to the choir here on this one! 

Another thing, you're going to have to Choose Joy. Happiness is unfortunately constricted to what’s happening while joy is something you can choose to experience despite the circumstance and trial you are in. Do you recall how Jesus was able to do so many great miracles in the lives of everyday people he encountered? He said it was according to their faith! Yes, he had the power, but they had to exercise their faith in Him. Maybe this is a lesson you have heard a million times, but regardless you need to learn it again.

Every time we lay something down before the Lord, Satan and our own flesh is going to make every opportunity to try and get us to pick it back up again. Just point your finger of authority at him and say, "I've laid this down already and I am NOT picking it up again in the name of Jesus!" Even if you do pick it back up, just remind yourself that you have already given it to God, it’s not a part of who you are anymore and put it down! Focus on the truth that you are a new creation. Old things have passed away and all has become new. Repeat to yourself over and over and over if you have to..."I believe YOU God, I believe YOU God!" Sometimes we have to choose to believe God because our feelings most of the time will not cooperate. But if you keep trusting and waiting on God, the feelings of faith will come. 

I have come to realize that at every moment of every day we have to choose whom we are going to serve and believe. I believe God today! Every day that you choose to trust God and walk in His ways, you will become stronger. It may sound simple, but it’s so powerful. His word says He puts before us each day blessings and curses and He desires for us to choose life that we might be free. Once you perceive your need for Him and realize even more deeply your dependence upon Christ, then you will begin to experience the joy that is only full from ABIDING in HIM!

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and I remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:10-13

Reflection Points:
God cannot work on anything you withhold from Him. What have you withheld from God?

If your brother or sister in Christ was having trouble believing God in some of the same areas you struggle to have faith in, what would you say to him or her? Could you not do the same for yourself?

Have you considered the power in your words? Maybe your words and thoughts left unguarded have something to do with your struggle to believe God? Consider your thoughts and words, what you both do and do not say.

Power Verses:
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Matthew 6:30

Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
Matthew 9:2

Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment.
Matthew 9:22

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.1 Corinthians 2:4-6

Yet Abraham did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God. Romans 4:20


“If you want to change the world, pick up your pin and write.” –Martin Luther

Just before His betrayal and suffering on the cross, Jesus had Passover with his disciples. At the table He breaks bread with the twelve knowing the chief priests and scribes were on the hunt, conjuring up a way to arrest him that very hour.

The scriptures say, “And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Luke 22:19

In the original language “he gave thanks” reads eucharisteo, which means thanksgiving. The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning grace; while its derivative in Greek is chara meaning joyThis ONE word - eucharisteo - encompasses a literary progression of giving thanks, finding grace and experiencing joy! Wow, what a word!

This giving of thanks is not expressed by Jesus because there is a wedding ceremony, a child to be born, the healing of a loved one or a financial breakthrough. It’s the thanksgiving just before betrayal, just before unbearable suffering on the cross.

It’s the gratitude preceding the unknown of the word cancer, the response that your baby’s heart in the womb is not beating, the grabbing tightly to the pillow with tears as another friend finds her soul mate and another has her third child while you struggle to understand why you must live alone without a date in years. It’s giving thanks for the time you had together when the phone rings and your son is not coming home from war. It is the strongest and most humble of souls that can look up to the heavens and find a way to glorify God when life bears terrible news again.

Eucharisteo is also the gratitude that is given just before the miracle. Jesus gave eucharisteo, thanks to the Father, even while the stone was being rolled away and the lifeless body of Lazarus showed no sign of life. Gratitude to the Father empowered the words…. “Lazarus, come forth!”

Then there is the eucharisteo seen most often. We are all very familiar with the gratefulness that follows evident blessings in our lives. But I believe there is an even deeper thanksgiving that can follow these answered prayers. Recall the ten lepers Jesus healed in Luke 17 as he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee into a secluded village where these outcasts suffered. They were all healed and yet only one returned….just one.

The scriptures say, “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks.” So Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?’ And He said to him, ‘Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.’v15-17.

Made well is sozo in Greek. Sozo is translated wholeness or Salvation! This one leper gave glory to God NOT glory to his healing. His was an understanding that what he really needed was a Healer, not to just be healed. Sozo is the awareness deep in your soul that you need a Savior. When you were given what you thought would save you and it didn’t; this is where salvation and wholeness can be found.

I want to share a book with you that recently took my soul by storm. The book is called “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp. The first few pages begin with a tragic story. Ann and her family watched her younger sister get hit and run over by a truck on a dirt road just outside their farm house. Although now a grown woman with several children, she re-visits that terrible scene often in her memory and a dark cloud finds itself hovering over her daily routines. As she seeks God’s healing power, He challenges her with a unique task. One thousand gifts was a challenge to make a list of one thousand every day gifts.

Her sister’s death had created a shade of ingratitude over her life. Faced with this self destructive habit of thanklessness and reaching for more, Ann finds her soul daring her to make a gift list. What initially seemed as small as a seed eventually bloomed into her greatest joy. She takes her pin and decides to describe simple things. The unexpected is sometimes glorious and beautiful. In Ann’s life, eucharisteo was the choice to bend her knees and hold the dirt in her hands on the very road where her little sister was broken and give thanks for her brief life.

A habit of giving praise and thanks can only be cultivated by the pen of remembrance. Jesus said “Remember Me” and what better way to remember who He was and is than through placing ink to the parchment and daily giving thanks to the Father? Give gratitude, even if it is just for the smell of clean sheets from the dryer, getting splashed by your child in the pool, or the smell of coffee from the kitchen. Developing the habit of recording the beauty in both the meaningful and seemingly meaningless can bring salvation to the soul. And so Ann’s pen begins to list the gifts….

1. Morning shadows across old wooden floors
2. Strawberry jam piled high on toast
3. Cry of a blue jay perched high on the spruce

“One thousand gifts” – the title - begins to make sense and my soul feels the warmth of the sun on this cold January morning as I begin to think of my own list.

I think of two beloved movies that captured this simple truth. We relate so well to “It’s a Wonderful Life” around Christmas time for this very reason. George finds his salvation in what he already has as he declares “Isn’t it wonderful I’m going to jail, Merry Christmas everyone!” Nothing had changed but his perspective had. It’s found again in “The Sound of Music”. Maria understood this healing ministry of eucharisteo well as she serenaded the Von Trapp children into overcoming their fears by reminding them to set their thoughts on good things.

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens 
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens 
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things
When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

Perhaps we are all only a few grateful thoughts away from our joy we can’t find in the mundane of every day. Because we are so distracted, we can’t see that it is nothing BUT mundane. In our brief journey here eucharisteo teaches us to gaze a little longer at the red robin and the food on our plate. We listen more keenly to the flap of the laundry on the line and the squeaking of the old swing on the front porch. Cricket’s chirping at night becomes a symphony and the long drive becomes an opportunity for prayer. The rain tapping on the window isn’t coupled with a complaint about how “it’s about time” but is rejoiced over as the withered grass is refreshed. Eucharisteo can come before the storm and after, but its end is the same – salvation, wholeness and joy.  

I’m picking out a journal today; it will stay in my purse and go where I go because the list needs to become a habit. I’m encouraging you to do the same. We all have one thousand gifts and the free offer of the greatest of them all – Salvation in Christ Jesus. A gift is something you just receive. Have you received the gift Jesus purchased for you on the cross at Calvary? It is wrapped in his broken body and covered in the His blood. A well of living water pours out continually to this day into the thirsty mouths of those with thankful hearts that come back, fall at His feet like the one leper and eucharisteo – give thanks.

When fears seep into your thoughts, perhaps you will you dig out that list and add to it....

#32 Bacon fryin on grandma’s stove…

If it doesn’t work out with the next relationship maybe you’ll write down number 56…

#56 Mom called today just to say she loves me…

And if the word stillborn, dead or cancer finds its way into your home, find the courage to write number 77…

#77 Red words in my bible this morning….

“Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and Be Thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3: 14-17

Sealed by Truth

 “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” Psalm 51:6 NIV

I am almost certain you have heard the story of the Titanic. I regret to inform you that I saw the movie in the theater not once, but twice in the theater. I am such a sucker for a romantic story and there is something about tragedy that strikes at the core of our being and reminds us we are not immortal.

According to the movie script, popular legend, and as described in the popular press of 1912, the ship was said to be "practically unsinkable". The Titanic was 882 feet long, 92 feet in breadth and weighed 52,310 tons or 117,174,400 pounds!!! Unsinkable was not an unusual term then though– for decades, ships had watertight compartments to limit flooding in case of an accident, and the press used this phrase often. One of the best lines in the movie is when the gentleman on board from the press says, “But this ship cannot sink!” Mr. Andrews replies abruptly and loudly, “She’s made of iron sir! I assure you she can….and she will. It’s a mathematical certainty.”

At 11:40 pm Frederick Fleet spots an iceberg. He informs the bridge and emergency maneuvers are carried out. Titanic hit the iceberg along its starboard side as it attempted to ploy the huge ship heading straight into the iceberg. Captain Smith orders Boxhall to inspect the damage to the hull. Its 11:45pm by the time he discovers that the Orlop deck was flooded forward of the fourth watertight bulkhead. He then reports to Captain Smith directly. Captain Smith and Thomas Andrews begin to inspect the damage. The impact created punctures in the six forward compartments of the ship. These small punctures along the sides of the ship were enough to cause vast amounts of water to begin flooding the compartments. Even though Titanic had a full set of pumps, they were not large enough to handle the vast amount of water that was entering the holes in the hull. By 2 am the entire ship is under water, floating down two miles to its eternal resting place.

What is most amazing to me about this tragedy is the limited size in terms of damage that caused the devastation and destruction of such a massive ship. I think there is a great analogy in this story. There was no storm that night; in fact, it was unusually calm which is why it was hard to see icebergs without any water to break at their base.

This made me think, just because things are calm around you does not mean the enemy has not punctured the sides of your life with sin. Those small fractures in the side of the ship had slowly let in enough water to sink the ship. In the same way, when we allow what we view as “small sins” in our lives, we will inevitably go down as well.

Satan and his hosts of wickedness want us to think that certain sins in our lives are not as bad as others. He even disguises himself as an angel of light to deceive us. {2 Corinthians 11:14} We can hold onto sin, not knowing the damage it is really doing in our lives. The exciting news is that it doesn't matter how much the storms of life rage around us, as long as we accept the work of the cross of Christ for our sins and turn from every one of them, we will not go down! God destroyed sin's control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. {Romans 8:3}  

Whether the waters we are in are raging or calm, it is possible to stay afloat by allowing the Holy Spirit to seal us and lead us into all truth. {John 14:17} The Bible says that the truth will set us free and will help strip the weights of sin that hinder our growth In Christ. {John 8:32, Hebrews 12:1} All the water in the world cannot sink a vessel as long as it does not get inside just as all the trouble in the world around us cannot hurt us as long as we do not let it inside. God desires to barricade your heart, mind, and soul with His Truth.

However, you must let Him into every crevasse of your vessel so He can seal every inch. Will you let Him in? He is the greatest protection against this world when its waves beat against you.

Reflection Points:

Are there any sins that still have control over you?

Why do you think we consider some sins greater than others?

How different would your attitude and behavior be if you stopped rating the sins in your life and called them as they are…sins?

Power Verses:

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32 NIV

“He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world at large cannot receive him, because it isn't looking for him and doesn't recognize him. But you do, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.” John 14:17 NIV

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 NIV

“But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don't need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you all things, and what he teaches is true--it is not a lie. So continue in what he has taught you, and continue to live in Christ.” 1 John 2:27 NIV

A Prayer:

Father, you have promised to lead me into the kind of truth that will set me free from the sin that tries to take me under. Please seal me with your Holy Spirit of truth so I will be able to stand against evil and sin that try to invade. I want to be a vessel of purity and righteousness unto you. I now claim my freedom in Christ. Barricade my heart with your truth. In Jesus name, Amen. 

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