What are you seeking?

Posted: October 21, 2016 in Thoughts on God

The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. (John 1:35-39 ESV)

“What are you seeking?” are the first words of Jesus that John records and the big question that he asks of these two men who are interested in becoming his disciples. This question could also be translated, “what purpose do you have?” The same question applies to us today- what is our purpose in seeking to follow Jesus? Are you seeking a Jesus that is there to meet all of your wishes or to answer all of life’s questions for you? Maybe you are seeking meaning and purpose in your life through Jesus. Some come seeking Jesus to find fault and to critique the Christian faith.

What we learn from these two men is that they simply wanted to go to where Jesus was staying, to spend time with Jesus, and to gain insight into who Jesus was and what he was about . They were coming to spend quality time with Him to listen and learn. We can learn from these men what it means to seek Jesus today. Seeking is more than just saying a prayer or one day a week in a church.

Here are three questions we can asks ourselves as we seek Jesus:

What is your purpose in seeking to follow Jesus?

When was the last time you carved out significant time to listen and learn to Jesus?

When can you make some time this week (not just a 10 minute devotional) to listen and learn from Jesus?


Going a little further he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but you will.” (Matthew 26:39 ESV)

How often are we faced with something in our lives that troubles us, grieves us, or simply we don’t want to do? I face this situation almost daily. Whether it’s not wanting to deal with someone at work, face rush hour traffic or do a necessary chore around the house. Most the time I think to myself that it would be nice if I did not have to deal with such things. They tend to be interfering with my plans or my will and bring about frustration.

When I reflect on the reading above (Matthew 26:39), I am immediately shamed into realizing how petty my so called trials and tribulations of life are.

Here we find Jesus asking God the Father to take away the immense physical pain and death he will be suffering. However, it is what Jesus says next that provides the most important lesson. He says, “Yet not as I will, but you will”. In other words, “God please don’t let me suffer a horrible death and find another way for me to save all of mankind, BUT only if that is what you want. If not, I am want to carry out your will.”

These 8 words from Matthew 26:39 shifted my entire paradigm of what it meant to be a Christian. I have struggled, continue to struggle and will probably always struggle with trying to assert MY will over God’s WILL. Yet, I want him to remove all life’s trouble and pain. It is inherent in our fallen nature as human beings to think this way. However, meditating on this verse helps me truly understand that God has a plan for me (us) and in end it is His WILL that we should be praying comes to pass.

Be sure to ask yourself daily, whose WILL shall be done?

Obedience Amid fear

Posted: October 18, 2016 in Thoughts on God

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” (Acts 9:10-14 ESV)

Have you ever been afraid to do something God is asking you to do? Saul was known for being a man who persecuted and even killed Christians. Ananias was a Christian. And here, God is about to change the heart of Saul, an evil man who hated God. He is about to heal him of his blindness and use him to reach many, many people for the Lord. But first, Ananias must obey God and have faith that God knows what he is doing.

You can imagine the fear Ananias must have felt to obey God and approach Saul. He must have heard countless stories of horrendous things Saul had done to Christians in the region. But still, he obeyed. And thank goodness he did! Because of Ananias’ obedience, God gave Saul back his sight and changed his heart. Saul (whose name was later changed to Paul) went on to become a major Christian force and in turn, wrote much of the New Testament.

What is God calling you to do? It may be to pray with a co-worker or to invite someone into your home for a meal. Maybe it is to call up an enemy and make amends. Or, it could be an infinite number of other acts of obedience that God asks you to do. We never know how someone’s life can change because of our obedience to God. When we have faith like Ananias, God can use us to accomplish unimaginable things!

What is God asking you to do?

A moment of truth

Posted: October 17, 2016 in Thoughts on God

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 ESV)

I read one of my morning devotionals today and had one of those ‘ah-ha’ moments that always make me wonder what other, simple, truths I’ve missed in my life. You see, I love my children. I mean the deep, feel-their-pain, kind of love. I feel so much pride when they do well that I often cry because of my love for them.

Oh, not the boastful kind of pride but, rather, the kind that springs from the heart when they ‘get it right’ in their life-decisions. I feel disappointment, but never stop loving them, when they don’t get it right.

I realized that my Heavenly Father loves me the same way…only on a much grander scale!

Friend, we are His children and He loves us, in spite of all our ugliness and sin, in such a way that you and I cannot and will not ever comprehend. He will always love us unconditionally. He will never lock the door behind us when we’re willful and turn away from His path. He will never hit the ‘ignore’ button and not take our calls. He will never write us out of His will.

You will always be welcomed back to His open arms (though the punishment may sting a bit). You will always be heard when you fall to your knees and call out to Him in prayer. And you will always have the promised inheritance of eternal life, mercy, grace and forgiveness that has been yours since you accepted the truth of Jesus’ death on the cross. Nothing will ever take His love from you. You are a child of the most-high, God, and He will never stop loving you unconditionally…nothing you do can change that!

Enjoy your day, my friend, with that truth tucked away in your heart!

Forgiveness of our sins

Posted: October 14, 2016 in Thoughts on God

“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”
(Luke 11:1-4 ESV)

As we pray for our needs we can often forget that our greatest need is forgiveness. God wants us to experience the freedom of forgiveness: the freedom of being forgiven by God and the freedom that comes from extending forgiveness to others. Scripture is clear that if we confess our sins to God, He will forgive us and cleanse us (1 John 1:9). Confessionliterally means to agree with God. We are agreeing with Him that we’ve sinned greatly against Him. We are agreeing that Jesus was a sufficient sacrifice for our sins. We are agreeing that His mercy and grace are much greater than our sins.

King David, in Psalm 51, wrote out a moving prayer of confession:

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
(Psalm 51:1-13 ESV)

Is there sin to be confessed in your life, so that you may experience forgiveness? Is there someone you need to forgive? Pray today for God’s wisdom and grace as you search your heart.

The great killer…temptation

Posted: October 13, 2016 in Thoughts on God

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Daily Devotional Bible Verses

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”
(Luke 11:1-4 ESV)

Notice that Jesus’ instruction on prayer does not end with “lead us not into sin” but instead “lead us not into temptation.” You may wonder,what’s the difference?

Many times we like to approach sin as an imaginary line. As long as we stay on the right side of the line we’re OK. But, as soon as we cross to the wrong side of the line we’re sinning. The result of this mentality is that we often attempt to get as close to this imaginary line as possible without crossing or sinning. Most of us eventually learn that if we keep walking up to the edge of this line, we’ll eventually cross it.

The motivation of this prayer isn’t merely trying not to cross an imaginary line, or avoiding sin, but avoiding anything that would draw us away from pursuing God. In other words the motivation in avoiding temptation is to have one’s heart, mind, and entire life fully focused on living for God. As the Apostle Paul challenged the young man Timothy, whom he was mentoring: “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).

In what specific ways can you ask God to enable you to avoid temptation, so that you can better pursue Him?

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Daily Devotional Bible Verses

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”
(Luke 11:1-4 ESV)

Jesus’ closest followers came with a significant request: “teach us to pray.” Surely, they had prayed before, but somehow they recognized their need for instruction on how to pray most effectively. Jesus’ instruction on prayer began with this familiar statement: “Father, hallowed be your name.” To hallow something means literally to “render or acknowledge, to set apart.” Jesus knew that we are designed to render and acknowledge something or someone who is bigger and better than us.

We see this concept play out every week as we “hallow” exceptional people and exceptional things:

  • Fans will congregate in packed stadiums to cheer on exceptional athletes on football teams.
  • Every evening people pack Broadway theaters, the Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall as they’re moved by exceptional actors, singers, dancers, and other performers.
  • During 2009 and 2010 the movie Avatar grossed over 2.78 billion dollars as it wowed audiences with its exceptional 3D special effects.
  • Each year 5 million visitors visit the Grand Canyon to marvel at its exceptional natural beauty.

We often “hallow” or worship worldly things, without realizing we were designed to hallow an exceptional God.

As we pray, our natural inclination is to begin by focusing on our needs or our struggles. God clearly cares about those needs and struggles, but our prayers will always be limited in scope and depth when we begin by focusing on ourselves rather than God. Fixing our minds and hearts on His glory, His power, His wisdom, His justice, His authority, His holiness, and His love is what gives us the proper context for everything else we pray. Notice how your needs and your struggles look different when you focus on God’s glory first.

Do your prayers begin with God as the focus or you? Take some time today to praise God for who He is and what He has done.