Saturday, April 28, 2012

Thou shalt...

by Charity Pence

This Week’s Verse: Psalm 9:8 “He shall judge the world in righteousness, and He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness.” (NKJ)

…not lie.
…not steal.
…not commit adultery.
…not murder.

Sound familiar? They should. Christians ought to have the entire Ten Commandments committed to memory. As soon as we learn them, they become our creed. We live by them. Take a moment to take an inventory. Which commandments have you obeyed today? Now what about this:

Thou shalt not judge.

Hmm. Feeling uneasy? I am.

Sometimes in our eagerness to be “good little Christians” we judge those who do not appear to be as “good” as us. But who are we to judge? Has God appointed us with that task? No. In Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus says, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (NKJ)

Nowhere in the Bible will you find a ranking system for sin. However, don’t we rank sin anyway? For example, wouldn’t we say a murderer is worse than a liar? But you know what? God views all sin equally. A sin is a sin is a sin. Period. Case closed. So why is it we judge others based on their sins?

Now what about this:

Thou shalt love thy neighbor.

Feeling convicted? Yep, me too!

When we judge others, we show condemnation rather than God’s love. We treat others as if their sin defines them. “She’s a liar.” “He’s a murder.” “She’s an adulterer.” “They’re sinners,” you think. We’re all sinners! Ask yourself what sin you struggle with the most. Do you want your life to be defined by that? Do you want God to judge you for that sin as harshly as you judge others? I sure don’t. Jesus died for every single one of us. As Christians, covered by the blood of Jesus and saved by God’s grace, our focus should be on showing that love and grace to others rather than behaving as if we are better than they are. “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” Luke 6:35-38 (KJV)

How many people do we turn away from God with our hypocritical attitudes? How many people could we save if we were truly obedient? Think about that.

Dear Heavenly Father, I am a sinner. I have judged harshly and neglected to show Your amazing love to others. Please forgive me for being a stumbling block to those who would otherwise come to You. Thank You for forgiving me, despite my sins. I thank You, dear Lord, for offering Your grace, which allows me to come to You without condemnation. Continue to convict me so that I can be truly obedient to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

God does not intend for any to be condemned. We are not condemned; we should not condemn others. If this week’s devotion has convicted you, seek God’s guidance. Repent, and God will forgive. Then take the grace God has offered you and share it with those around you.

Power Verses:
1 John 2:10 “He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.” (KJV)
1 John 4:11 “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” (KJV)
1 Peter 3:8 “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous.” (NKJ)

Sunday, April 22, 2012


by Charity Pence

This Week’s Verse: Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

“There’s a party going on right here, a celebration to last throughout the years. So bring your good times and your laughter too, we’re gonna celebrate your party with you.

Cel-e-brate good times, come on!”

You know that song, right? It’s often played at weddings and birthday parties. Every time I hear it, I just want to…celebrate. It’s such a catchy tune.

Amidst today’s chaos, finding something to celebrate can be difficult. But as Christians, we should celebrate every day. We have nothing to fear. Isaiah 41:13 says, “For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” (KJV) We never have to face anything alone. “The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders.” Deuteronomy 33:12 (KJV) Isn’t that worth celebrating? How about this: we have eternal salvation. 2 Corinthians 5:21 assures us, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (KJV) That alone should make us want to dance.

Even on our worst days, we have something to celebrate. We have reason to be joyful. Jesus told the disciples, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11 (NKJ)

So come on ~ let’s celebrate!

Dear Heavenly Father, please fill us with Your joy. Remind us even when our lives seem to be spiraling out of control, we have reason to be glad; our security comes from Jesus, not the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Application: This week, don’t let Satan steal your joy. You have nothing to fear; you are a child of God!

Power Verses:
1 Chronicles 16:31 “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; and let them say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns.’” (NKJ)
Psalm 47:1 “Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph!” (NKJ)
Isaiah 12:2 “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” (NIV)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lesson Learned

By Bethany Lashbrook

Today’s Verse: Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

The other day, Clint and I were enjoying a (rare quiet) moment together and we were “discussing” some issues. The issue doesn’t matter, what matters is that Clint and I felt the need to discuss it. We weren’t gossiping, we weren’t talking bad, or making fun. We were just addressing something that someone else was doing and we would never do. For lack of a better word, I would call it complaining. We were complaining. After a long hard day at work for both of us, and supper to follow with cleanup and bedtime routine, we deserved a little complaining, right?

As we finished talking, we had it figured out. We were right. The end. And then I picked up a Daily Bread. It wasn’t even current. It was the January – March one. I flipped it open to a random page and on it was this word: “SLACKER”. Say what? I’ve never seen this word used in devotion.

As I continued to read this devotion, my heart sunk to my knees and I couldn’t believe what I was reading. You know those moments – where you say “Lord, Lord, the world is so BIG and yet you took this small moment to teach me this lesson?” In awe and amazement I showed Clint. He too felt small.

Slacker was termed in this devotion as someone who doesn’t read the bible daily or might slack in his/her prayer life. Slacker was identified as someone who skips church, even if just once a month to sleep in. Slacker was someone who saw a need and walked right by this need as if he/she didn’t see it. Slacker could be a Godly term. It didn’t have to be worldly.

There I sat, a hypocrite, at it’s finest. Yep, I said it. I was being hypocritical. I had failed to remove the plank from my own eye as I was clearly noticing the speck in my brother’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5). My problem was this. I was on the worldly track of the term slacker.

Television gives me this idea. People give me this idea. Satan and this world give me these ideas. We are to live this way or live that way. But, when I live worldly, I don’t live Godly. I can’t be of both worlds. I am to regard people from a Christ-like point of view (2 Corinthians 5:16).

There I sat, amazed at God’s timing once again in my life. I realized those sayings I spoke like “ I will NEVER do that”, or “thank goodness I do that differently” instead became the Lord referring me back to my ways. I quickly had to ask for forgiveness for not reading the bible that day, but instead caring about what someone was wearing. Forgiveness was needed for getting upset that it took so long in the checkout line when I was grumpy with the cashier. I should have instead been using this awkward five minutes to ask this lovely woman about her day and show Jesus to her.

Jesus presents himself in everyday opportunities. And so does Satan. I am a firm believer of this. This could be a whole discussion in itself. BUT, the point of this devotion is this: We must not be critical of those worldly things around is because they are that – worldly. However, we must remember that the Lord has shown us how to live in a book. The bible reminds us when we are being hypocritical. I know many Christians don’t like this word. But, the shoe fit and I was wearing it. It was no clearer than if Jesus would have been standing in my family room discussing it with me.

Lesson learned, Father. Lesson learned.

Dear Father, forgive me for my impatience, my need to discuss issues that aren’t mine, and my human nature of pointing out other’s faults when I have so many of my own. Thank you for your constant forgiveness in my life and thank you for the awesome sacrifice that was given so I can one day meet you in Heaven. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application: Try to remember a term recently you have used like “always” or “never” and refer it back to your own life. We don’t know other people’s circumstances and we don’t know why they have chosen to do these things. Try rephrasing your sentence to “I will try to (fill in the blank)” or “I would rather not (fill in the blank). Redirect your attention to what you will try to do or rather not do in your own life. Clearly focus through God’s eyes on the nature of your own ways!

Power Verses:
Psalm 5:8, “Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies – make your way straight before me.” (NIV)
Psalm 139:24, “And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (KJV)
Matthew 6:13, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. (KJV)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Jesus Loves Us

by Charity Pence

This Week's Verse: John 19:30 "So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, 'It is finished!' And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit." (NKJV)

No matter how many times I read the story of Jesus' death on the cross, I cannot fully wrap my mind around what Jesus did for all of mankind. Jesus' physical walk here on Earth did not last long, but consider the agony He must have felt as He took that final walk. He carried His cross alone for as long as He could. And with each step, He knew what He would come to but kept walking. What love He must have held in His heart for humanity!

Despite all the miracles He performed and the lessons He taught, Jesus was hated by many. But He loved them all in return. "And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgatha, where they crucified Him." John 19:17, 18 (NKJV) By the time of Jesus' death, he'd been betrayed by Judas Iscariot, who was a friend and disciple, and He was denied by Peter three times. He'd been beaten, spit on, had a crown of thorns forced into His head, but He loved each of His offenders. And before giving up His spirit, He made one simple request. "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Luke 23:34 (KJV)

Jesus' love was so great, it's inconceivable. But it's the truth; it's real. Celebrate that this weekend as you celebrate Easter.

Dear Jesus, thank You for dying upon the cross to save me from my sins. Thank You for loving me even when I haven't deserved it. I pray, Lord, that You will help me to take that love and spread it to Your children so that all will see Your glory. In Your name, Amen.

There's nothing wrong with egg hunting and eating chocolate bunnies, but make sure you take time to reflect on everything Jesus went through to give you everlasting life. We, as Christians, bear Jesus' name. So please honor Him today.

Power Verses:

John 11:25-26: "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.'" (NIV)
Mark 15:38, 39 "Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, 'Truly this Man was the Son of God!'" (NKJ)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

If God Leads, Will You Follow?
by Charity Pence

This Week’s Verse: 1 Peter 2:21 “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.”

I have been at my current job for three years. To some people, that may not seem like a long time. However, when I began working there my intent was to be there for no more than a year and a half. I was going to go to grad school, but that did not turn out the way I expected. Okay, who am I kidding? I felt like that door was slammed in my face. But I know God has a plan for me, and my current job is just a stepping stone to where God wants me to be. The question is, when God finally calls me, will I be ready to follow Him?

In the first chapter of Jonah, we learn God called Jonah for a particular task, and Jonah went the opposite direction. Jonah didn’t want any part of the work God was calling him to do. A raging sea and the belly of a great fish were needed to convince Jonah that he would be better off serving God. When I read this story, I wonder how often we make things worse for ourselves by doing our own thing rather than what God has called us to do.

In previous posts, I have mentioned that I believe God gave me the ability and desire to write. I have found myself regularly asking God what He wants me to do. Although I have been given the opportunity to do these devotions, I do not believe this is all God has in store. I love to write. I know what I want to write. But what if what I want is not what God wants? Am I willing to trade my plans for God’s?

Have you ever considered how many of the disciples wanted to leave everything they had behind to follow Jesus? “And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ They immediately left their nets and followed him.” Matt. 4:18-20 (NKJ) The last verse makes the choice seem so simple. They immediately left. If God called you today away from your job, your family, would you go?

At some point we are all called by God to a particular task. But will we answer?

Dear Heavenly Father, my desire to serve you is real. As I seek your guidance, continue preparing me for your work so that when the time comes for me to go, I will go immediately. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Application: God calls each and every one of us to serve Him. But what He calls one to do may not be the same as what He calls the next person to do. God may ask you to leave for a specific destination. Or He may ask you to complete a task closer to home. Whichever the case, continue to seek His presence. If you trust Him, He will prepare you.

Power Verses:
Matt. 9:9 “As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.” (NIV)
John 12:26 “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me, and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” (NKJ)
Romans 11:29 “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (NKJ)