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Daily Devotions

Sabbath was Made for Man
Feb 25, 2020

Tuesday 

Mark 2:23-28 The Message (MSG)

One Sabbath day he was walking through a field of ripe grain. As his disciples made a path, they pulled off heads of grain. The Pharisees told on them to Jesus: “Look, your disciples are breaking Sabbath rules!” Jesus said, “Really? Haven’t you ever read what David did when he was hungry, along with those who were with him? How he entered the sanctuary and ate fresh bread off the altar, with the Chief Priest Abiathar right there watching—holy bread that no one but priests were allowed to eat—and handed it out to his companions?” Then Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made to serve us; we weren’t made to serve the Sabbath.” 

Explanation:

By the time Jesus took on earthly form and walked the earth, the Jews had rules upon rules for those who served the true God. Their rules formed their identity, and became the standard for judging themselves and others. Rules without relationship are weighty and burdensome, and Jesus wanted them to understand the heart of the Father and to be free from rules that had morphed into bondage. In today’s passage, we see a window into a moment with Jesus as the Pharisees are trying to navigate the rules versus the gift. 

Yes, we have rules from the heart of God, but there is always freedom with the rules. An example of a rule designed by love for us is that we are not to commit adultery. Adultery has never worked out well, as it destroys relationships, families, trust, and livelihoods. It always leaves devastation in its wake. To be told not to do it by God means He knows these realities and wants to spare us the pain, loss, and hurt. There is total love behind the rule.

He is never trying to deprive us; He is always trying to spare us.   

The same with honoring the Sabbath. The Sabbath was a day set apart every week for worship and rest.

Jesus knows our limits, and knows we are hard wired to need rest and spiritual rejuvenation. In our passage today, He emphasizes the goodness of this principle, in that if we honor it…we receive the benefits.  

Through obedience, God helps us get done in six days what it would normally take seven days to do. What a gift! 

Application:

  1. What excess in your life prohibits a Sabbath rhythm to your week? As you meditate on this, allow God to reveal what to say no to, so you can say yes to Sabbath rest. 
  2. Because the heart behind the Sabbath is for your rest and recharging, what would have to change IN your heart for you to receive this gift? Are you addicted to busy? Are you convinced it is your strength and power that produces the best results? Do you lack the faith to submit your schedule to God?
  3. The Sabbath wasn’t created for selfish indulgence. It was created for nourishment for our souls combined with rest for our bodies. Trust God and try His idea. Stress is ruining families’ relationships and bodies, and God has a remedy. He gave us the Sabbath for replenishing our souls, soothing our minds, and resting our bodies.
  4. Practically speaking, what does one day set aside for worship and rest actually look like? Ask God for the answer.
  5. Don’t fall prey to the arrogance of “too busy to stop.” Fatigue and exhaustion are tools the enemy of your soul will utilize against you. God’s plan of Sabbath translates into a sustainable, flourishing life! 

Prayer Prompts:

  • In Psalm 51, when David realized his heart wasn’t aligned with God’s, he prayed a very simple prayer that spoke volumes of surrender and submission and restarted his direction. “Create in me a clean heart Oh God, and renew a right spirit within me.” When we pray the same, He begins the work. 

Devo Plus:

  • Ephesians 4:24
  • Since we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces His character in you.

 

 

Daily Devotions

You Are Not What You Produce
Feb 24, 2020

Monday

Deuteronomy 5:12-15 (ESV)

Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore, the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. 

Explanation:

Rest. Today’s scripture emphasizes the importance of resting. In a world of careers where productivity is king, we often forgot the value of rest. God made us in His image, and deliberately rested on the seventh day. God didn’t get tired—He was modeling behavior for us to follow. He stopped His own productivity in the name of rest. 

Did you know that “rest” is an area where modern science agrees with scripture? The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reported stress levels at an all-time high in work scenarios, and health care expenses are nearly 50% higher for people who report that they fall into the “high stress” category. Stress caused by constantly being pushed to produce and sacrifice rest has been shown to reduce your immunity.

Implementing a Sabbath and taking time away from the productivity drive results in HIGHER productivity, better mental focus, and creative thinking. God knew that we would be in stressful situations even when He created the world, and the command to rest is just another example of His great love for us. He wants us to be at our best and to live life abundantly—obey His commandment, and live by His example! 

Application:

  1. Do you have a “Sabbath” that you observe where you are intentional to disconnect from work and the necessity to “produce”? If you don’t, this is a great time to implement one.

Prayer Prompt:

  • Ask God to help you honor His command for a Sabbath. Ask for help being intentional about your schedule and setting aside time for rest. If you haven’t been honoring the Sabbath, ask Him for help in creating a day that is dedicated to rest. 

Devo Plus:

  • Read Isaiah 40:30-31, Romans 12:2, and 2 Corinthians 5:17 to learn how God helps us when we are tired.

 

Daily Devotions

God Modeled the Ideal
Feb 23, 2020

Sunday

Genesis 2:1-3 (ESV)

Thus, the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So, God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

Explanation:

Take notice of the language that is used when the seventh day, the Sabbath, is described in today’s reading. God called this day holy (sacred), so holy that God Himself, who did not need any rest, took the time to model for us the value of this day. When God declares that something is holy, we mustn’t just look past it. Although every day has value and purpose, the Sabbath is set apart for a special purpose. To keep the Sabbath day is a command, and like all commands, it accomplishes two primary outcomes. The first is to develop a trusting relationship with the Father. And second, it blesses our lives to live it out. Although rest is not a need for God, it is vital for us. God knew this and made a way for it to happen. The Sabbath gives us permission to rest. It is a caring Father saying, “You look exhausted, go rest!” If you have ever worked incredibly hard at something, you know how rewarding it is at the end of it to just rest.

Well, the Sabbath is so much better than even that, because it includes spiritual elements as well that refresh our souls. Without the Sabbath as a part of our weekly rhythm, we will become run down, burnt out, weakened, over-stressed, and ultimately ineffective in fully living out life the way God designed it to be lived.

Application:

  1. How does knowing that the Sabbath is considered “holy” to God change how you view the Sabbath in your life?
  2. Why do you think God needed to give us permission to take the Sabbath?
  3. When was the last time you truly set aside a day as your Sabbath?

Prayer Prompt:

  • Father God, I want to take the Sabbath seriously in my life. I realize this will require trust on my part, but I trust if You said it is “holy” for me to do it, then I want to make it a priority in my life. Thank You for giving me permission to rest in You.

Devo Plus:

  • Write down all the reasons that typically keep you from taking a rest. One by one, surrender them to God, and tell Him you want to trust Him in these things.

Daily Devotions

More Blessed to Give than Receive
Feb 22, 2020

Saturday 

Acts 20:32-35

And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

Explanation:

When considering today’s reading, it seems necessary to define what “more blessed” looks like for us. There are certainly some perks to being on the receiving side of any form of generosity. When it comes to assessing value, it seems counterintuitive to say that when you give something away, namely money or resources, the value of your life actually increases. However, if you are familiar with any of Jesus’s teachings or views on life, you know that Jesus does not view things as most view them. Jesus’s views, which are spoken with full knowledge of what man’s true heart, desires, and needs are, give us a much truer measure of what it means to be “more blessed.” The Apostle Paul, who wrote today’s passage, also had come to see this truth in his own life. There are many reasons why it is more blessed to give than receive, but the primary reason is that it enriches your relationship with God. I know this may not make sense at first, because primarily you are giving to others and not God, but giving to others does several incredible things.

First and foremost, as Christians, our relationship with God is most important, and anything we can do to enrich that relationship is exactly what we should do. Giving anything is a cost on our part, and giving to others, especially sacrificially, develops a deeper trust in God to take care of our needs. This is the best place to operate out of, because whatever God gives is far better than any earthly possession we hope to find life in. The more we operate like Jesus, the more the Spirit in us overflows with the love and joy of God. This is what fulfills the cravings of life that we want to so often fill by focusing on our own needs. By giving more than receiving, we get to show Christ’s love and joy to others around us, which profoundly blesses and enriches their lives as well. There is no greater joy than loving God and loving others. 

Application:

  1. Describe a time when you were blessed by giving.
  2. How does giving to others model for them the love of Christ and heart of God?
  3. Why do we want to show Christ’s love to others through our giving?
  4. How has God been generous in giving to you?
  5. What are some ways that you can be more giving in your life, and in turn more blessed?

Prayer Prompt:

  • Jesus, I thank You for being the ultimate example of generosity. My heart struggles at times to see the blessing in giving, so I ask that You show me not only the blessing of giving, but also who I can give to. I need You also to show me how and what to give. I trust You to be with me through it all, which is the best gift of all.

Devo Plus:

  • Write down the name of someone you would like to give to, and how you would like to start blessing their life. Surrender it to God and trust in Him to make a way.

Daily Devotions

Generosity Rewarded
Feb 21, 2020

Friday 

Proverbs 11:24-25 (The Message)

The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.

The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.

Explanation:

God smiles on the generous person, and places His stamp of disapproval on the stingy person. The farmer who sows small will reap small; business people have to spend money to make money. Those are realities.

In the spiritual realm, you must be generous with everything God has given you, in order to receive His blessing. It is a lifelong journey of being extra generous that brings true fulfillment.

We have both a social and spiritual responsibility to be generous. God rewards generosity.

Application:

  1. When learning a new life skill, it takes repetition before it becomes natural. Watch the journey of a baby’s first steps, to that same child mastering running. It took repetition. The same with generosity. You must do generous things over and over until it is a natural way of living. A baby’s first steps take great concentration and courage. What are five things more generous than you have ever done, that you could do this week? Be intentional and expect a struggle, but DO them! Know that it will eventually feel as natural as running, once you develop your generosity muscle.
  2. Why do you think God enlarges the world of the generous? Could it be that He can trust them, and He knows they are willing to be poured through? Our generous God looks for generous people He can trust to bless.
  3. Who can you help today? It is not unrealistic to expect to help someone each day of your life. Whether it is through a financial gift, a physical assistance, a task completed, a load lightened, a shared resource, a courtesy expressed, or an encouraging gift, there are daily ways to help others. Imagine our world if more and more people looked for ways to help others. 

Prayer Prompt:

  • Jesus, give me the “want to” in my heart to be generous, and then I ask You to help me follow through. I know it is much easier to agree with than to actually do, so I realize I need your Holy Spirit’s power to move in my heart and mind to embrace being generous. I long to be surrendered in every area of my life so I might be eagerly generous with my time, money, energy, resources, and heart. Give me eyes to see where You can use me to help someone today, tomorrow, and the next day. I give You my life to use for Your purposes, Lord. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

Devo Plus:

  • I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.

God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it, 

He throws caution to the winds,

    giving to the needy in reckless abandon.

His right-living, right-giving ways

    never run out, never wear out. 

This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God. (2 Corinthians 9:7-11, The Message)