Keep Moving

When we hear the word “backslider,” we think of someone who completely abandons their faith and turns their back on God. And certainly a person who does this could be classified as a backslider. But I would suggest there might be some people who are backsliding and aren’t even aware of it.

No one plans on backsliding. You don’t call up your Christian friend and say, “Hey, want to backslide tonight? Pick you up at 7:00. What do you say?” No, that is not what happens. Backsliding happens subtly, and often it happens gradually. In fact, it may be so subtle that you may not even know that it is actually taking place. The Bible warns about this and tells us that one of the signs of the end times is that people will fall away from the faith (see 1 Timothy 4:1).

God says that if we have backslidden, we should return to Him (see Jeremiah 3:22). And Jesus told the church in Ephesus, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen” (Revelation 2:5).

Are you in a fallen state today? Are you in the process of backsliding? You are either going forward in Christ, or you are going backward. You are either progressing, or you are regressing. And the moment you put your walk with Christ into neutral, you will find yourself going in the wrong direction.

I read about a sign at the end of a runway that reads, “Keep moving. If you stop, you are in danger and a danger to those flying.” The same warning can be applied to the Christian life: Keep moving. If you stop, you are in danger and a danger to others.

So don’t rest on your laurels. Don’t live in the past. We need to be constantly growing as followers of Jesus.

Summary sentence: We need to be constantly growing as followers of Christ.

Copyright © 2012 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.
 
(This devotional was taken from the YouVersion bible app and was written by Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest)


Remorse or Repentance ?

There is a difference between repentance and remorse. Remorse is being sorry you got caught. For example, if you were to rob a bank, get away with it for awhile, and then are arrested, you are remorseful. Why? Because you got caught.

Or, as you are driving down the freeway and get pulled over by the highway patrol, you are remorseful. Why? Because you got caught, not because you broke the speed limit. That isn’t repentance; that is remorse. Repentance is being sorry enough to stop what you are doing and change your behavior.

Judas Iscariot was remorseful about his betrayal of Jesus. He knew Jesus was innocent. He knew what he did was wrong. And if he was repentant, he still could have turned to Jesus. But instead, he turned to the religious leaders.

And what did that do for him? They said, in effect, “You know what? What is that to us? That is your problem. You have served your purpose. Get out of here.” That is so typical of this world. It promises freedom, but it brings slavery. It promises enjoyment, but it brings guilt. Instead of happiness, it brings sorrow. Instead of pleasure, it brings pain. Judas did not have a friend in the world except Jesus, and he betrayed Him. So Judas turned to religion, and religion had nothing to offer him. He needed Christ.

Religion is like getting a Band-Aid when you need open-heart surgery. We don’t need a little religion, because a little religion–or even a lot of it–won’t help us. We need a lot of Jesus.

Where will your guilt drive you? If you feel guilt for your sin, here is where you need to go: to Christ. That is the only place to go.

Summary sentence: Do you know the difference between godly sorrow and remorse?
 
Read: 2 Corinthians 7:10
 
 
Copyright © 2012 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.
 
 
(This devotional was taken from the YouVersion bible app and was written by Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest)


Loved to the End

People sometimes ask, “Do you think God would hear the prayer of some wicked person who called upon Him even in the very last moments of his life–if that person had done horrible things? Would God pardon a person like that?” Absolutely He would.

Sometimes we have loved ones who died and never made a profession of faith. And we may conclude they did not go to heaven. But we don’t know that. Were you with these loved ones in the last moments of their lives? Were you there when they took their last breath? How do you know that he or she did not call on Jesus?

Here is what you do know. God loved them and wanted them to be saved. As 1 Timothy 2:4 says, God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

When Judas arrived in the Garden of Gethsemane to betray Jesus, Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?” (Matthew 26:50). Jesus was giving Judas one last chance to repent. And I believe that if Judas had stopped right there and said, “Lord, I messed up. I don’t know what I was thinking. Forgive me,” then Jesus would have pardoned him. Why? Because God says, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways!” (Ezekiel 33:11). Jesus loved Judas to the very end. He was His friend. But His friend betrayed Him, and this broke His heart.

I don’t want to give false assurance and suggest that everyone is in heaven, because they are not. But I am saying that if they called on the Lord in the last moments of their lives, He pardoned and forgave them.

Summary sentence: If you call on the Lord, even in the last moment of your life, He hears you!

Copyright © 2012 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 
(This devotional was taken from the YouVersion bible app and was written by Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest)


The Unique You

The essence of normal is the status quo, being just like everyone else—in how we look, what we wear, what we like, what we buy, what we watch, where we go on vacation, what we do for fun. Being normal is safe. And easy. It doesn’t require much work or effort or change on our part. But it always leads to mediocrity.

When we strive to be just like everyone else, we never have a chance to be special. When you start to embrace and even celebrate how special and different God made you, you can begin to do extraordinary things. You can begin to see yourself through His eyes. You can begin to live in the uniqueness with which you were created. You can be motivated and inspired to go against the grain.

What does that mean? When everyone around you is picking on someone, stand up for that person. When everyone around you is using foul language, say kind things. When you see injustice and everyone else turns a blind eye, try to make it right.

Going against the norm can also mean having a different outlook on life than others. When everyone around you is working eighty hours a week so they can one day retire and start enjoying life, you can do something different to start living well in the moment. And instead of keeping up with the Joneses, you can be grateful for what you have right now.

You matter too much to God to be just like everyone else.

It’s time to circle back to our identity in God. He created each of us in a unique way for a reason. We are each different in how we look, how we think, how we create, how we process information. We also have different life experiences, good or bad.

Never say, “God must have made a mistake with me” or “I wasn’t created the way I should have been.” God would disagree.

Whatever obstacles you are facing, whatever struggle you have with not fitting in, whether you feel you aren’t pretty enough, strong enough, big enough, fast enough, or smart enough, know that you are not an accident or a mistake. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

What makes you different, special, unique?

How can you more fully live out the way that God made you?

Read: Psalm 139:14
 
(This Devotional was taken from a devotion by Tim Tebow in the YouVersion/Bible.com app/Website)


Pain Transformed

Not every prayer is answered in the way that we want. Sometimes things happen for reasons we can’t explain, that don’t make sense, that seem unfair. If today you’re going through a tough time, know that it’s for a purpose.

One of my favorite quotes is from my big sister Christy. In the midst of her struggles with health and the challenges of being a missionary overseas, she became convinced, “God will never waste pain that’s offered to Him.” I love that. God will never waste your pain. He will never waste your heartache. He will never waste your loss.

If you’ve lost something precious to you—a dream, a marriage, a child—I can’t tell you exactly the purpose or plan, or what the future holds, but I will say that God is loving, that He is sovereign, and that although your heart may be broken in a million pieces, He will never leave or forsake you. And He can and will use even the bad to orchestrate good.

I want to be clear that I’m talking about pain that’s been given to Him. If we hold on to our hurts, our heartaches, our struggles, our losses, and refuse to surrender them to Him, we become bitter. And we relinquish the opportunity for God to do something with it—whether it’s to mold our character, teach us something important, grow us in some way, or make a difference in the lives of others.

The Bible tells us that God causes all things to work together for good “to those who are called according to His purpose.” If we let Him, God can use all things for good, even the bad.

I know it’s easier to hold on to the bad stuff, to control it to some extent, and to keep God out of the picture. But when we do, we’re the ones that suffer.

Trust God. Trust His heart. Trust that He loves you. Trust that He has a plan. If you have to do this grudgingly at first, dragging your feet along the way, that’s okay. It’s at least one step in the right direction.

What is some pain in your life that you can hand over to God today so that He can begin bringing something good out of it?
 
Read: Romans 8:28
 
(This Devotional was taken from a devotion by Tim Tebow in the YouVersion/Bible.com app/Website)


Love over Fear

For Jesus, giving His life in return for our freedom from sin was a daunting task. In fact, on the night before He was to be crucified, He wrestled with God, His Father, while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me” (Luke 22:42).

It’s evident His heart was torn between doing what He knew was necessary and being shadowed by the fear of what it required. In fact, the Bible says that Jesus “being in agony… was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground” (Luke 22:44).

Jesus wasn’t in agony over a little something; He was sweating drops of blood. That is a big deal! While I’m sure He was partly afraid of the physical torture that was coming, there was a greater fear. His crucifixion also meant separation from God.

He would bear the entire weight of the world, of my sin and yours, on the cross. And that meant that until His resurrection, His heavenly Father would turn His back on His Son. That perfect relationship would be severed. Physical torture is one thing, but abandonment can hurt even more.

So Jesus asked His Father if maybe, just maybe, there was another way. Yet, He didn’t park on that thought for a long time. Jesus’s prayer quickly continued, and He ended His tear-filled plea with the following: “Yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). This is what needs to be done, so I’ll do it.

Fear doesn’t make you give your life for someone else. Fear doesn’t make you run into a burning building to save your child. Oh sure, you may hightail it into that building afraid that something bad is going to happen to your kid, but your love for that child will overwhelm that fear.

Fear doesn’t make you take a bullet for someone. But love does. Let love dominate, the kind of love that we choose over our feelings, over peer pressure, over our selfish desires, over our fears, and over our disappointments.

When you want to be the most powerful or the strongest you can be, always choose love over fear.

What are you scared about today? How can you act out of love in that area of your life instead of out of fear?
 
Read:
1 John 4:18
 
(This Devotional was taken from a devotion by Tim Tebow in the YouVersion/Bible.com app/Website)


Your Life, A Masterpiece

Purpose is one of those words that people have tossed around so much, especially in Christian circles, that it’s hard to know exactly what it means. Is it this one grand event that unfolds when you’re at the right place at the right time?

Is it something that you are passionate about or what you are naturally skilled at doing? Is it doing something that makes you happy? Does it have anything to do with helping others?

While I’m not a theologian or a Bible expert, I believe that your purpose is intertwined with your identity.

A man named Paul, one of the earliest church missionaries, wrote that we are God’s “workmanship.” The Greek word for “workmanship” is poiema, or “poem.” Think about this. Before you were even born, God wrote a beautiful poem about your life.

This masterpiece is about you doing not just meaningless or average things, but good works, wonderful things that make a difference. This means that you are important, significant. You matter!

When life gets tough, when your relationship starts to fall apart, when the cancer comes back, when you can’t beat the addiction, when your kids are running wild, when your parents are driving you crazy, when you feel stuck in monotony or routine, it’s important to circle back to God’s love and the fact that He has an amazing purpose for your life.

I don’t know what your purpose is. Maybe it’s to become a doctor and help cure cancer. Maybe it’s to be a parent and shepherd your family.

Maybe it’s to become an entrepreneur and partner with a nonprofit organization. It might be to help children all over the world or just your own, one million people or just one.

Regardless of how your life will impact others and what that will look like, I just know that when your identity is grounded in God, when you trust in Him, you become part of a bigger picture. And you begin to live out this wonderful poem He has written for your life.

What evidences do you see that God is already making something beautiful out of your life?
 
Read: Ephesians 2:10
 
(This Devotional was taken from a devotion by Tim Tebow in the YouVersion/Bible.com app/Website)


A Future and a Hope

  • What do you do when life shakes you?
  • When your health fails…
  • When you lose your job…
  • When you get divorced…
  • When your dream flops…
  • When you make that one bad decision…
  • What do you do when something that has defined you your entire life is gone?
  • When your platform disappears…
  • When your perfect family is torn apart…
  • When you go bankrupt…
  • When your looks fade…
In tough moments like these, it’s easy to question who we are. When my NFL career was crumbling, at times I’d wonder the same thing. Am I the person who won the Heisman Trophy? Or am I the person who has been told over and over by so-called analysts that I can’t throw?

The dictionary defines identity as “who someone is, the name of a person, the qualities, beliefs, etc., that make a particular person or group different from others.” I like to say that identity comes not necessarily from who we are, but from whose we are.

I am a child of God. My foundation for who I am is grounded in my faith. In a God who loves me. In a God who gives me purpose. In a God who sees the big picture. In a God who always has a greater plan.

Who am I? I am the object of His love.

So while I may get hurt, disappointed, or frustrated by the negative side of life’s equations, my foundation doesn’t have to change. Even if I wrestle with internal feelings, I can hold on to God’s truth. I know He’s got a plan for me, even when I don’t know what it is or when it seems to look totally different than what I imagined.

This is what identity is about. It comes from God. And it gives us a future and a hope.

How do you see yourself?

How do you think God sees you?
 
Read: Jeremiah 29:11
 
(This Devotional was taken from a devotion by Tim Tebow  in the YouVersion/Bible.com app/Website)


Love

Love is our greatest mandate; to love God first and our neighbors as ourselves are the greatest commandments. In fact, Matthew 22 says that the law hinges on this very mandate.

When we commit to love others–to show them brotherly affection–we are doing one of the most important things we can be doing on this earth. It’s not an afterthought or something meant only for those closest to us; love is your highest calling.

In fact, Romans says you should outdo one another in showing kindness. Imagine if everyone aimed to go above and beyond in loving each other. Imagine how transformed the body of Christ would be if this one principle was implemented.

Make it a point to show love to your spouse, your family, your coworkers, your friends, and the people you come in contact with at church. If you can do this–if you can be a carrier of God’s love–then you’ll be a catalyst for unity.

Unity is incredibly desired by God, for His people. He longs to see His children live out humility, gentleness, patience, and love among each other and in a broken world. Begin to take steps in growing in these areas and living them out, and you’ll certainly honor Him.

Seek unity in your relationships, among other believers, and in your church, and watch as they flourish in ways you’ve never witnessed before. Unity is very important, so be a carrier of it today. Bring unity into your world!

Read: Matthew 22:36-40 & Romans 12:10

(This Devotional was taken from a devotion in the YouVersion/Bible.com app/Website)



Patience

Praying for patience doesn’t usually work out the way you hope; in fact, it often puts you in moments when patience is tested. Am I right?! The moment you ask God for help to be patient you get stuck in traffic and show up late to work. Or your toddler throws a fit in the grocery store. Or a coworker tests your nerves.

Patience is one of those virtues that can be tested multiple times in a day. It catches us in our best mood. But how do we practice it and how does it lend itself to unity?

Patience means being slow to anger and having the wisdom to not be hasty. When this is tested–when your blood begins to boil and you want to rush into a situation–it’s always wise to take a momentary breather. To gain some perspective of the moment and act in an understanding way.

This will prove beneficial in your relationships and in your church. When you choose to be patient and understanding with another, you choose peace. You choose gentleness.

You choose to handle the moment with grace. Proverbs says that with patience a ruler can be persuaded. If patience can do that, who knows what power it has to foster unity!

Focus on patience as you go through your day today. Catch yourself in the moments it is tested and embrace how you can grow in that moment. As you begin to live it out, watch how it can transform your relationships!
 
Read: Proverbs 14:29
 
(This Devotional was taken from a devotion in the YouVersion/Bible.com app/Website)


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