WITH RECKLESS ABANDON

From 30 devotions for youth leaders devotional

As Jesus peers across the Temple, He looks deeply into the souls of the congregants. He wasn’t auditing their actions. Instead, He was searching their hearts and assessing their motivations.

The way He commends the widow causes me to question my own patterns of living and giving. When Jesus affirms her for giving “out of her poverty,” it convicts me to the core. It reveals how little I understand the love of Christ, that I would underestimate His provision and care for me. Life has taught me:

To risk only from a place of safety.

To love only from a place of security.

To defend only from a place of certainty.

To explore only from a place of predictability.

To dream only from a place of realism.

To give only from a place of plenty.

This is not Jesus’ plan. He calls us to live with the abandon of souls set free. In spite of our desperation and brokenness, he asks us to live generously.

We love because He first loved us.

We give because He emptied the treasury of heaven for us.

We risk because our safety is found in Christ alone.

We forgive because He forgave.

We defend the defenseless because He wielded His sword for them.

We abandon bias and prejudice because His assessment of the soul exceeds our ability.

We reconcile because He alone is judge.

We live “out of our poverty” because it is there that we can plumb the depth of our worth in Him.

It is no sacrifice to give from a full account. But when Jesus looks across the temple, He sees beyond our actions to assess our motivation and sacrifice. Jesus, our model and master, knows the pain of our sacrifice, the depth of the well from which our gifts are given.

When we give out of our poverty we tap into the limitless love of Jesus. Live from a place of confidence in Christ, not from the “safety” of self­ reliance.

WORTHLESS WORSHIP

““Isn’t it true that a son honors his father and a worker his master? So if I’m your Father, where’s the honor? If I’m your Master, where’s the respect?” GOD -of-the-Angel-Armies is calling you on the carpet: “You priests despise me! “You say, ‘Not so! How do we despise you?’ “By your shoddy, sloppy, defiling worship. “You ask, ‘What do you mean, “defiling”? What’s defiling about it?’ “When you say, ‘The altar of GOD is not important anymore; worship of GOD is no longer a priority,’ that’s defiling. And when you offer worthless animals for sacrifices in worship, animals that you’re trying to get rid of—blind and sick and crippled animals—isn’t that defiling? Try a trick like that with your banker or your senator—how far do you think it will get you?” GOD -of-the-Angel-Armies asks you.

“Get on your knees and pray that I will be gracious to you. You priests have gotten everyone in trouble. With this kind of conduct, do you think I’ll pay attention to you?” GOD -of-the-Angel-Armies asks you. “Why doesn’t one of you just shut the Temple doors and lock them? Then none of you can get in and play at religion with this silly, empty-headed worship. I am not pleased. The GOD -of-the-Angel-Armies is not pleased. And I don’t want any more of this so-called worship! “I am honored all over the world. And there are people who know how to worship me all over the world, who honor me by bringing their best to me. They’re saying it everywhere: ‘God is greater, this GOD -of-the-Angel-Armies.’ “All except you. Instead of honoring me, you profane me. You profane me when you say, ‘Worship is not important, and what we bring to worship is of no account,’ and when you say, ‘I’m bored—this doesn’t do anything for me.’ You act so superior, sticking your noses in the air—act superior to me, GOD -of-the-Angel-Armies! And when you do offer something to me, it’s a hand-me-down, or broken, or useless. Do you think I’m going to accept it? This is GOD speaking to you!”

‭‭Malachi‬ ‭1:6-13‬ ‭MSG‬‬

May we never come to the place where the joy, wonder, and enthusiasm goes out of our worship. What we do for the Lord Jesus Christ should never be “a weariness.” OwPerhaps you’ve heard people complain, “Are we going to church again? Do we have to sit there and be bored?” No matter how large the crowd, it’s sad to see a full church with empty people trying to overflow. One of the worst insults to God is half-hearted worship

We need to ask ourselves daily, Have we become weary in our worship? Are we enthusiastic about our worship of God, about our daily walk with Him? The answer will help us gauge if our worship is worthless or not. We must never allow ourselves get to the point of offering worthless worship, it is both a waste of time and effort because it goes no where and achieves nothing.

ENGAGE YOUR HEART AND MIND IN THE WORSHIP OF GOD TODAY!!

VERSE OF THE DAY – DONT BE AFRAID

“But now, GOD ’s Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob, the One who got you started, Israel: “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end— Because I am GOD, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:1-4‬ ‭MSG‬‬

LOVE, MY PERMANENT RESIDENCE

“God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.” 1 John‬ ‭4:17-18‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Can you imagine it? Can you just let your heart come into the space where we live in God and God lives in us? A place where God truly has the run of the house(our lives), where we allow Him make the day to day decisions of our lives, give Him full control? What a glorious, stress-free, liberated, joyful, joyous, bold,dynamic, and awesome life we would have. All our fears and worries taken away and dealt with by a God that cares about us unconditionally and loves out without measure.

Can we take a minute today and let Him into our lives completely and totally and give Him permission to enter every room of our life and heart, clear it out and take up residence.

GOD IS LOVE!!

LOVE LIKE YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN HURT DEVOTIONAL BY JENTZEN FRANKLIN

Love Wins—All the Time

Scripture:  John 21:15-17

Love is the answer to the broken home. Love is the answer to the addict. Love is the answer to fractured relationships. Love is the answer to being offended. Love is the answer to heartbreak. Love is a weapon that can shatter division and rebuild what has been broken.

What is happening in your life right now that tests you in the way you love? Did you just discover that your spouse has been cheating on you? Do you want to reconnect with the daughter you haven’t spoken to in months? Did your son just tell you his girlfriend is pregnant? Is your teenager suffering from an addiction that is overwhelming not just his life but every single person in your family? Has your adult daughter declared she’s a lesbian and she’s done with the whole God business?

Different dynamics and complexities characterize each of these situations. But they’re real. They’re hard. And they hurt.

I wonder what would happen if we decided that, with God’s help and in His strength, we are going to love like we’ve never been hurt. Instead of withholding affection, staying bitter or seeking revenge, we love.

God will begin, little by little, to release you from the past if you will reach for a new day.

It takes a lot of love and forgiveness to hold a family together. Love never fails. Keep on forgiving. Keep on loving. Keep on reaching. Keep on talking.

The Big Idea:  The ones whom you love the most can hurt you the most. Love them anyway.

THE EXPECTATION OF THE RIGHTEOUS

“So Peter invited the men to stay for the night. The next day he went with them, accompanied by some of the brothers from Joppa. They arrived in Caesarea the following day. Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends.”

Acts of the Apostles 10:23-24 NLT

When Cornelius sent his messengers to Peter, it took between four and five days for the journey. Remember there was no mobile phones, no internet, no GPS, nothing that would tell him how far they had gone, if they had arrived at Joppa, nothing. Yet the Bible records that when PETER and the messengers arrived, Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends. He was believed what the angel spoke to him in the dream and was fully persuaded and expectant that the servants would return with PETER. Imagine how he was able to keep all his relatives and friends together and waiting for the arrival of PETER and his servants. What did he say to them to convince them to stay, what was going on in his own heart? But in all these things, he was assured that his expectation would not be cut off.

“Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality–faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].”

‭‭HEBREWS‬ ‭11:1‬ ‭AMP‬‬

“Surely there is a future [and a reward], And your hope and expectation will not be cut off.”

‭‭PROVERBS‬ ‭23:18‬ ‭AMP‬‬

WHEN THE SPIRIT SPEAKS

“Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.” So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. The place in the Scripture which he read was this: “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth. In His humiliation His justice was taken away, And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.” So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭8:26-40‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Several things come to mind as I read this passage of the bible

1. Philip’s sensitivity and obedience to the Spirit – He heard the Spirit speak and He moved, no question! He wasn’t so bothered about where or if he ever got there, he was just ready to go as the Spirit led him. Philip was available, he was present to be used. Sometimes being produces more than doing. Philip obeys the command to go and be near the chariot. He was there, he was present, he was available.

2. The eunuch is returning from a pilgrimage to the Temple, a place laden with Spirit-filled 1st century Christians, and he leaves still not knowing Christ. Was he overlooked or ignored? Was there no one there that could see his need and help him? Was he not connected? Did he not see or feel God in that gathering? What went wrong? Was it not his time? Or was God just preparing him for a closer encounter? We may never know exactly the reason but we can be assured of one thing, God saw his heart, that he was seeking for a personal knowledge of Him and He made it possible through a Faithful, Available and Teachable (FAT) vessel.

As we go through today can we ask the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to opportunities to meet the needs of others and may we be sensitive enough to see when He is prompting us. May we take our eyes off the ‘destination’ and enjoy the journey and go as He leads.