iPromise Devotion – 1.29.16

ipromiseThis week’s iPromise Principle: God is faithful when and where you are not.

Today’s iPromise Principle: A good word brings gladness 

 “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” Proverbs 12:25

 Anxiety is such a weight, but it is definitely a distrust that all things work out. As a guy who struggles with anxiety, I am quick to call it sin because it is me not believing in the provision God has for me. However, the encouragement I receive on a regular basis gives me hope and confidence in this life as a follower of Jesus.

Relationships are vital to us overcoming a lot. God created us for relationships, and Jesus himself had close friends (his disciples) around him. It doesn’t mean those relationships are more important that God himself. It means God uses people in our lives, by their words, to shape us into the people we are. So, because of this, what we hear from people on a regular basis either can shape our anxieties or give us gladness. If you are around a negative person all the time, or you are that negative person all the time, why wouldn’t people have anxiety?

Take just a simple conversation like this: “Man this weather is so nice. It’s breezy, the sun is shining, and my kids are pumped about the weekend!” And then THIS guy says “Bro, you’re right, but have you looked at the forecast this weekend? Thunder storms, possibly hail, keep your kids inside.”All of a sudden, even just thoughts about the weather control your anxieties for the weekend. “What will we do? How will our kids get out the energy they need to get out? Hail?? I just fixed a crack in my window!”

That’s just the weather. But what about a your friends who’s having a rough time at her job and needs to hear an encouraging word to keep staying strong. What about your single friend who has been through a divorce and misses his kids dearly when they are with their mom who needs a good word of presence. What about one of your best friends who is succeeding in an area of life, and still needs some type of good word to remain humble, continuing to press forward.

We need to give good words and receive good words on a consistent basis, but even when we don’t receive a good word, we can still be a good word in our relationships. The text stated at the beginning, says “a good word makes him glad.” Someone’s life changing moment could occur because the power of a good word from you! Your friendships and community can be full of joy, by the command we have by Paul in Romans 12:10 to “outdo one another in showing honor!”

God is always your good word! Be a good word today, tomorrow, and forever in your relationships.

 

 

iPromise Devotion- 1/28/2016

ipromise

This Week’s #ipromise Principle- God is faithful even when we are not.

Today’s #ipromise Principle- Earthly work- all of it!– carries eternal significance.

“Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:22-24, ESV)

It’s Thursday- perhaps even Thursday afternoon by now. If you operate by a traditional Monday through Friday work week, chances are you’ve got your eyes fixed firmly on the weekend ahead- and it likely can’t get here soon enough. Even if you aren’t literally “working for the weekend” because of an unusual schedule, I’d guess you are counting down the days on your calendar until the next one labeled “OFF.”

While there is nothing inherently wrong with looking forward to a day off, or an upcoming getaway, for many of us our earthly work, in whatever unique form it takes, amounts to little more than an obligation we fulfill to pay the bills and perhaps enable us to afford a few desired extras. But according to the Bible, your work was meant to be far more than just that. While the presence of sin in our fallen world does make earthly toil difficult on numerous levels, God has given clear instruction in His Word about how we should approach and engage it.

Our text today emphasizes over and over again– in just three short verses!- that your earthly work carries an eternal significance. According to God, when you show up to work- be it as a teacher, a police officer, an accountant, a plant operator, or a high school junior (along with every other vocational variety out there)- you aren’t just working for an earthly “master”; you are “serving the Lord Christ”! Knowing this should give you a whole new perspective on even the most mundane of work related responsibilities.

Your heavenly Master sees everything about the way you and I engage our work- not only our actions, but our attitudes and motives as well. We are, in a very real sense, accountable to God for the way in which we work. Additionally, God has embedded many opportunities within our work to both grow in Jesus and be used to serve others in a way that points to Jesus.

So what challenge can we take away from this text, and the truth it presents? Here are three questions to consider as you hit the grind of your next work week (and the rest of this one!)…

1- Do I approach my work in a spirit of gratitude before God and others? Why or why not?

2- Do I perform my work with integrity and excellence, “working heartily…as the Lord and not for men”?

3- How can God grow me toward maturity in Jesus through my current job situation?
How can God use me to share Him with others in my current job situation?

1.27.16 – iPromise Devotion

ipromise
This week’s iPromise Principle: God is faithful when and where you are not.

Today’s iPromise Principle: God and your money are at war for your heart.

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” [Matt. 6:24]. In this unsettling verse, Jesus used the Aramaic word for money, speaking of Mammon as if it were a spiritual entity vying with God for our allegiance.

Both money and God are matters of the heart. They both touch our deepest needs, fears, desires, and dreams. Money seeks our hearts, even as God does. But only God can fill it. Thus Jesus said we can’t serve both God and Mammon. Neither will share our worship.

But if you are like me (and I am pretty sure you are), we’ve tried hard to prove Jesus wrong. We have sought to serve the Lord and, at the same time, to embrace the materialism of our culture. We have said things like, “As long as I put God first, it’s okay to have lots of money and the things money can buy.” This may well be true, but our rationalizations have often masked our own submission to money. Until we acknowledge money’s power in our lives, until we admit that we struggle to serve God and not money, we won’t be released from its power. Thus we won’t be free to worship God fully, with all that we have and all that we are.

When we realize that all that we have and all that we are belongs to, “our” money is really God’s money to be used for His purposes. God seeks our worship, not only in our songs and prayers, but also in our giving and spending. Most of all, God desires the full devotion of our hearts.

“God has given us the use of his resources for a short time here on earth, and we have much to be grateful for. Go through your day sometime just recognizing that everything is God’s. Get out of God’s bed and walk into God’s bathroom, and turn on God’s shower, and then put on God’s clothes. Eat God’s cereal and drink God’s coffee. Get in God’s car and head to work. When we start to see all of our resources as God’s it helps us develop an attitude of gratitude that leads to a heart of worship.”
[Kyle Idleman]

It is not wrong to have money. It is not wrong to buy things. In fact, I find money to be very useful and good. Fellowship Church finds money to be very useful to accomplish the mission and vision of the church. But when something good becomes a god, the pleasure it brings dies in the process.

It is why every Christian should ask these questions in regards to their finances:
1- Why am I buying this?
2- Does this purchase position me to worship God purely?
3- Am I still capable to give cheerfully?

1.26.2016 – iPromise Devotion

ipromise

This week’s iPromise Principle: God is faithful when and where you are not.

Today’s iPromise Principle: What goes in dictates what comes out…

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Luke 6:45 NIV

Sometimes what we simply need is good reminder of the obvious. How many times have you heard, “garbage in equals garbage out? ” The principle is fully understood – what you put into something is what you’re going to get out. This applies to garbage cans, bank accounts, your mind, and the ice-chest you forgot to clean out the last time you went fishing.

Jesus ’ saying, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored in his heart,” is not an encouragement to try harder to avoid sin or to make a fresh commitment to be a better person. Jesus is simply reminding us of the obvious: What goes into your heart and mind dictates what comes out. We fully understand this principle; however, for a million reasons we struggle to apply it to our own personal situation, to apply it to the next opportunity we have to choose what we consume.

God through the Holy Spirit is faithful to convince you of right and wrong. God is faithful in new mercies for a new day of new ways. God is faithful with music, media, and fellow Christians who will speak truth and encouragement into your life. What will you click on next? What will you listen to later? What thoughts will you entertain in the next 24 hours?

Today’s iPromise challenge is multiple choice:

A) Read one of the following passages and let it direct your thoughts:

Psalm 1, Psalm 139 13-18, Philippians 4:8

B) Choose 24 hrs of music and media that is God honoring and fills your mind with pure truth.

C) Consider one negative thought you have of yourself and replace it with God’s truth of what defines you.

Take today’s challenge and share what you are doing to input something good into your heart and mind. Encourage someone else to do the same.

1.25.2016 – iPromise Devotion

This week’s iPromise Principle:  God is faithful when and where you are not.

Today’s iPromise Principle:  Prayer is not righteous because of the right words.  It is righteous because of a right spirit.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.  James 5:16-17

Elijah had a nature just like ours.  He was a sinner just like us.  God did not answer Elijah’s prayers because he earned it.  He answered his prayers because Elijah loved the Lord his God.

Righteous people pray righteous prayersElijah wanted the same things God wanted.  The power of his prayer did not cause God to agree with Elijah.  The power of Elijah’s prayer was that Elijah agreed with God.  His prayers were answerable.  A right spirit is the fuel of right prayers, not the right words.

Now, we know Elijah struggled.  We see him in one dark place in life asking God to take his life.  God did not answer that prayer as Elijah asked.  God restored Elijah.  God could not answer Elijah’s prayer.  It was unrighteous.  It was selfish.  It was short-sighted.  It was of the wrong spirit.

Today don’t try to get the words just right.  You do not need to build a fancy case to convince God to do your will.  It will not help.

Instead start with a spirit that says, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

Right prayers ask for right things because they come from a right spirit, trusting that if I asked for the wrong thing, I would rather what God gives than what I said.  God is faithful even when and where you are unfaithful.

God is faithful!

 

I Promise Devotion- 1/22/2016

This Week’s #ipromise Principle- The presence of God is a promise to live, not an experience to chase.

Today’s #ipromise Principle- Love others as they are, not as they ought to be or as you want them to be.

Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-12

“I’ll love you if…”
“I’ll love you when…”
“I’ll love you as long as you…”

Have you ever heard any of these statements? Have you ever said any of these statements? Often, even if we don’t say it out loud, this is exactly the way that we approach our relationships with others. Our love for them, and kindness toward them, is conditioned on them meeting a certain set of demands and living up to a certain set of standards (even if they are unspoken). These standards may not be bad in an of themselves- for example, the expectation that someone speak to you with kindness and respect- but any time our choice to love another becomes contingent on their choices, it ceases to reflect the love which God has shown us in Jesus, and the love to which He has called us to demonstrate toward others in Him.

This is true in all relationships, but it is intensified in marriage like in no other relationship. To love another person unconditionally is inescapably demanding; to love them unconditionally for a lifetime is all but naturally impossible apart from God’s strength! Our text today instructs us in what it looks like to “love for the long haul”- “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” You may find yourself today in a difficult season in your marriage, a time when obedience to God’s command seems especially wearisome.

Be encouraged and challenged by God’s example of unconditional love toward you. He remains faithfully present with His people even in our darkest and most desperate times. It is His love, grace, and steadfast presence alone that can melt our hard hearts and bring about lasting change. In the same way, God desires to give you His supernatural strength to love well, as He loves- without the “if’s,” “when’s,” and “as long as you’s” to which we are all so prone. What would it look like today for you to “bear…believe…hope…and endure” all things so that God’s love can flow through you toward your spouse, or toward someone else whom God has called you to love?

I Promise Devotion – 1/21/2016

This week’s #ipromise principle: The Presence of God is a Promise to live in not an experience to chase.

Today’s #ipromise principle: Time is evil when we miss it’s value.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. – Ephesians 5:15-16 (ESV)

Time is the great, invisible idol of our society. Most people believe that the chaos is temporary and placid fields lie just over the near-term horizon. But then the last chaos transforms into the next chaos with no ceremony or recognition. School and sports become first careers and desire to get ahead. Young relationships and social lives become babies and night-long crying. Paying for the growing family becomes a new lifestyle standard that requires more and more overtime with less and less surplus. Babies become children and their sports and activities compete with the work requirements of this newly standardized lifestyle. Retirement disappears into a bear market and work till death seems the unavoidable conclusion. In all of these transformations, a question lurks waiting to be mentioned by pastors at the most inopportune time:

How is my use of time being graced by God to help me become more Christ-like?

As all humans are naturally evil apart from faith in Jesus Christ, so also is time that has not been redeemed. Notice how significant this time (kairos) is from the passage above, as noted by James Montgomery Boice:

“Both kairos and chronos refer to time and are frequently translated as ‘time’ in our Bibles. But chronos refers only to the flow of time, the following of one event upon another; it is the idea involved in our word ‘chronology.’ Kairos refers to a moment that is especially significant or favorable…. What this means is that time is to have this full or meaningful element for the wise Christian. Moreover, he is to redeem it or make the most of it precisely for that reason.”

Your life is especially significant and favorable for transformation out of old ways and into Jesus’ ways. Make the most of your time – redeem your time. How? By prioritizing the uses of time as Jesus prioritized his.

  1. Will you live to serve rather than to be served?
  2. Will you live as an agent of reconciliation with God to those around you?
  3. Will you demonstrate the love of God at every opportunity?
  4. Will you study God’s Word and have it ready for situations of temptation?
  5. Will you rest when you have worked and have more work upcoming?