Monday, October 24, 2011

Weekly Devotional : Closed Door Blessings

You try one door after another, yet no one responds to your résumé. No university accepts your application. No doctor has a solution for your illness. No buyers look at your house.

Obstacles pack your path. Road, barricaded. Doorway, padlocked. Do you know the frustration of a blocked door?

God uses closed doors to advance his cause.

He closed the womb of a young Sarah so he could display his power to the elderly one.

He shut the palace door on Moses the prince so he could open shackles through Moses the liberator.

He marched Daniel out of Jerusalem so he could use Daniel in Babylon.

And Jesus. Yes, even Jesus knew the challenge of a blocked door. When he requested a path that bypassed the cross, God said no. He said no to Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane so he could say yes to us at the gates of heaven.

It’s not that our plans are bad but that God’s plans are better.
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8–9 NLT)
Your blocked door doesn’t mean God doesn’t love you. Quite the opposite. It’s proof that he does.

God's Story, Your Story
This devotional is from Max Lucado's book "God's Story, Your Story"

Monday, October 10, 2011

Weekly Devotional : Power Moves In

Power Moves In - by Max Lucado

What got into Peter? Seven weeks ago he was hiding because of Jesus; today he is proclaiming the death of Jesus. Before the crucifixion, he denied Christ; now he announces Christ. From wimp to warrior in fifty days. What happened?

What got into Peter?

God’s Spirit did. Ten days after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, “all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4). The followers experienced a gushing forth, a tremendous profusion. They were drenched in power. They all were: “sons and daughters…young men…old men…servants, both men and women” (vv. 17–18). The Holy Spirit, in his own time and according to his own way, filled the followers with supernatural strength.

The Holy Spirit is not enthusiasm, compassion, or bravado. He might stimulate such emotions, but he himself is a person. He determines itineraries (Acts 16:6), distributes spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:7–11), and selects church leaders (Acts 13:2). He teaches (John 14:26), guides (John 16:13), and comforts (John 16:7 KJV).

“He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:17 NKJV). Occasional guest? No sir. The Holy Spirit is a year-round resident in the hearts of his children. As God’s story becomes our story, his power becomes our power.

When God’s Spirit directs us, we actually “keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). He is the drum major; we are the marching band. He is the sergeant; we are the platoon. He directs and leads; we obey and follow. Not always that easy, is it? We tend to go our own way.
To walk in the Spirit, respond to the promptings God gives you.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isa. 30:21)

If Peter and the apostles needed his help, don’t we? They walked with Jesus for three years, heard his preaching, and saw his miracles. They saw the body of Christ buried in the grave and raised from the dead. They witnessed his upper room appearance and heard his instruction. Had they not received the best possible training? Weren’t they ready?
Yet Jesus told them to wait on the Spirit. “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised…the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4–5).

Learn to wait, to be silent, to listen for his voice. Cherish stillness; sensitize yourself to his touch. “Just think—you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene” (1 Cor. 1:7–8 MSG, emphasis mine). You needn’t hurry or scurry. The Spirit-led life does not panic; it trusts.

God's Story, Your StoryThe same hand that pushed the rock from the tomb can shove away your doubt. The same power that stirred the still heart of Christ can stir your flagging faith. The same strength that put Satan on his heels can, and will, defeat Satan in your life. Just keep the power supply open. Who knows, you may soon hear people asking, “What’s gotten into you?”

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Weekly Prayer Focus : Health

Weekly Prayer Focus:
The health and well-being of our Team Members
(those who are sick, who are fighting some physical battle against disease, those who are just tired, and feeling worn out)

If you aren't sure where or how to start, let this be a guide, but not an absolute. Communicating with God should be from your heart, not just your mouth.

Heavenly Father, 
I thank You, Lord, for this team. I thank You that a body of believers can come together in one place and share openly and honestly with each other. Lord, some of our members are in pain, some are sick, some are just worn out from the road of life. Lord, we lift those members up to you. We lift them up to you for healing, for restoration so they may feel rejuvenated and full of your energy and life. Lord, remind us that we are not a body, we are a soul. Remind us that this body is only a temporary cloak. Lord, help us to not focus on our physical ailments but to focus on you. To trust in you to bring us healing. To trust in you that even if healing isn't in your plan, that we have peace and joy in your truths. Lord, we love you, we want to be near you always, in Jesus' name, AMEN. 

I encourage you to pray this prayer, or (any) prayer regarding the financial worries of our team members, daily. 

If you have any answered prayers in relating to this prayer focus, please share those in the comments below.

Also, if you'd like to pray more for this team, as a team member you can visit our team forums and view some threads regarding prayer needs. You can find all the threads here, and find specific prayer needs herehere and here

Love you all, 


Monday, October 3, 2011

Weekly Devotional : God's Truths and satan's temptations

Today’s Truth
“The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV).
Friend to Friend
Adam and Eve had a wonderfully fulfilling life. They lived in God’s presence. He walked and talked with them in the cool of the evening, and He met all of their needs.
“I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it.  They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground-everything that has the breath of life in it-I give every green plant for food,” (Genesis 1:29-30). 
God placed only one restriction on the pair. “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die,” (Genesis 2:16-17).
In Genesis chapter three, we see where our ancestors made a grave decision that affected every person born thereafter. Satan came to Eve in the form of a serpent and tempted her with the one restriction placed on her by God. How did he do it?
1.    He questioned God. “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2.    He denied God. “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.
3.    He caused her to doubt God’s justice. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 
Satan is the great deceiver who takes what worked in the Garden and continues to use the same tactics today. He is not very creative, but he is highly effective. It is very important to understand his tactics in order to recognize and defeat them.  Paul said he was not ignorant of the devil’s schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11 NASB), and we shouldn’t be either. Satan tempts us to question God. Has God really said you must stay married to a man who doesn’t meet your needs? He tempts us to deny God. God wouldn’t count it as a sin for you to seek happiness elsewhere. He tempts us to doubt God’s justice. What kind of God is He who would deny you the right to find happiness in the arms of a different man who appreciates you? These are lies, my friend. And just as God warned Eve, they are deadly.
The basis for Eve’s temptation and for ours as well, is the lie that God is somehow holding out on us. Think about it. Can you think of any temptation that does not have its root in that lie? Eve had it all! And yet, Satan came to her and whispered, “God is holding out on you. There’s more to be had than your perfect world. You can be like God. You can be in control.”
Girlfriend, do not be deceived. Satan is a liar and the father of lies. He still tells lies today. He still deceives those who will listen in the same way he deceived Eve. So recognize the lies when you hear them, and stand on the truth of God’s Word to watch him flee.
Let’s Pray
Dear Lord, Thank You for giving me everything I need for a life of godliness and the truth (1 Peter 1:3). Help me to be keenly aware of Satan’s lies and recognize them for what they are.  When I have a tempting thought, I pray that the Holy Spirit will convict me, help me replace the lie with truth, and give me the power to walk the other way.  I want to be like David who said, “I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you,” (Psalm 119:11).
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
I asked a question earlier, but let’s think about it again.
Can you think of any temptation that is not based on the lie that God is holding out on you? 
How did Jesus fight Satan’s temptations when he was in the desert? (Matthew 4)
What did Satan do after Jesus answered him with Scripture?
What will Satan do when we fight him with Scripture? (James 4:7)

[this devotional is by Sharon Jaynes of Crosswalk]