Welcome to our 31-day corporate fast. Below you will find a devotional post for each day in the month of January to guide us together in discerning the voice of God. Bookmark this page to check back daily, and use the social buttons to share posts to others.
Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.
We all love those powerful mountains moments when the beauty and the glory of the Lord are revealed, and His face shines bright as the sun. Jesus took Peter, John, and James with Him to what we refer to as the mount of transfiguration while the other nine disciples waited down in the valley. What these three disciples saw and heard during those mountain moments would not only send shivers up and down their spines but would forever reshape their lives and prepare them for the journey that lay ahead. This journey that would require them to give everything for the sake of the gospel and the call of Christ.
Peter’s journey would take him from the floor of a smelly fishing boat to the streets of Jerusalem, where he would say, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” (Acts 3:6). He would later die a martyr’s death. James would become the leader of the Christian church, establishing doctrine and writing inspired writings. He would also die a martyr’s death. John’s journey would lead him to be exiled on the island of Patmos where he would be called up to heaven to write the book of Revelation. Their lives are a testament to the truth of Jesus’ declaration in Luke 12:48, which says, “to whom much is given, from him much will be required.”
As is the case in most physical terrains, so is also the case in much of our lives; the only way for us to come down from those glorious mountain moments is to go through a few dark valley experiences. The truth is that when God calls us ‘UP’ to spend time with Him on the mountain, it’s because He has some important work for you to do in the valley. It is on the mountain that we get to spend precious moments with God, and it is in the valley that we get to live out our calling and find purpose and meaning in God’s plan.
Enjoy the mountain moments, and when God releases you, come join us in the valley as we do the work of our savior.
Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9: 37-38)
Published on Jan 18 @ 3:47 AM EDT
Intoxication of Success
Nor will we say anymore to the work of our hands, ‘You are our gods.’
In our culture, it is all too easy to become consumed with success. Society teaches us to strive to make the most money, to build the biggest houses, and to drive the fanciest cars. We measure success, not by the quality of a person’s character or the impact they make in the lives of others, not even by their piety and devotion to God. Instead, we measure success by the accumulation of material things. Sadly, this is a reality not only in the broader culture, but it is a reality in much of the church culture as well. We often, in great error, equate riches with blessings.
This constant striving for material wealth is unhealthy in its own right, but it also leads to a dangerous consequence—the elevation of the “blessing” over the One who makes the blessing possible. This pattern was seen often in the history of the nation of Israel. Israel, of course, was God’s chosen people. They had a special relationship with God and were instructed to worship God alone. But time after time, they turned their worship from the one true God and worshipped idols made of wood and stone.
To be sure, it is God who gives us the power to create wealth, but we should never worship the success that God has made possible. When we do this, we have, in effect, replaced the image of the one true God with the image of our own success. This condition is often manifested in pride and arrogance, and we know that pride comes right before the moment we fall.
It is a dangerous thing for us to get to a place where we worship the things we have made, rather than worshipping the God who made the universe. Let us focus our worship exclusively on God our Father and watch our relationship with Him flourish into a loving harmony between our soul and His heart.
Published on Jan 17 @ 3:45 AM EDT
Faithfulness Over Everything
“He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Christ requires faithfulness. He demands that His disciples are faithful to Him and His commands. Christ spells out in this parable that we have a responsibility to be faithful, even in what we deem to be the smallest of matters. We can’t think to ourselves or seek to convince ourselves that faithfulness in small things doesn’t matter, because it does. Christ said if you’re faithful in very small matters, then you will be faithful in larger matters. So often, we want to be trusted by the Lord with more, but we refuse to be faithful over what we have already been entrusted with. We have to train ourselves to live faithfully in all of life.
When we look back at this parable, we see that the manager was unfaithful over his master’s resources. This unfaithfulness led to his unrighteous action in stealing from his master by forging debtors’ notes that were owed to his master. In doing this, he proves himself unable to be trusted with anything of his own. The problem with the manager was that he was seeking to use his master’s resources, to which he had full access, to serve both his master and himself. This is exactly what unfaithfulness looks like—self-service, selfishness, self-centered ambition, etc. What he was attempting is impossible, and that is Christ’s point. You simply cannot serve the Lord and yourself at the same time.
But how many times do we seek to serve Christ and something or someone else? We try to straddle the fence, as if that’s possible, but we are well aware that it isn’t. We need to steady our devotion to the Lord and make sure we use our resources as they were meant to be used, according to His definition. If we are unfaithful in doing this, we place ourselves at risk of creating an idol that displaces the Lord in our lives.
I encourage you to be faithful. No matter how heavy or light the responsibility, be faithful. Faithfulness always has its rewards. The LORD will look upon our faithfulness, and honor it with even greater responsibilities.
Published on Jan 16 @ 3:43 AM EDT
Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Luke 1:26-38 lays out the incredible miraculous story of how The Messiah was to be born. When the angel Gabriel appeared and made this announcement to Mary, this was indeed good news! Mary, a young Jewish woman, like all pious Jews, would have been expecting his arrival. Although the angel did not specifically say Messiah is coming, she would have recognized the things that the angel proclaimed about the child were similar to what Samuel prophesied to King David in 2 Sam. 7:9–16. Like David, she would have known this was Messiah. And oh what a privilege-she was chosen as his mother! O blessed was she among women!
I want to call your attention to a little detail in v. 26-27, “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David…” Did you catch it? Mary was betrothed or engaged to be married at the time that the angel appeared. We have to understand that an unplanned pregnancy, even with the Messiah, had serious implications for her anticipated future and her very life. According to the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, betrothal is “the act of engagement for marriage in Bible times and was as binding as marriage…Betrothal and marriage comprised a moral and spiritual principle for the home and society. The penalty under the law of Moses for disrupting this principle by adultery, rape, fornication, or incest was death.”
Let me also call your attention to Mary’s response. V. 38 notes, “And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Wait, what?! In those few moments Mary, considering the implications of this announcement, said YES! Yes, to the possibility of ridicule and shame on herself and her family for being unmarried and pregnant; yes to the possible loss of her relationship with Joseph and being single the rest of her life; yes, to the possibility of even death for her seeming betrayal of her betrothal commitment. She said yes to this divine interruption!
Maybe you, like Mary, are experiencing a divine interruption, something that has come out of the blue and has seriously disrupted your life as you knew it. Perhaps it’s a sickness or injury, an unplanned pregnancy, a career dream that just will not happen, or maybe even a worldwide Pandemic!
I have often been inspired by Mary’s response to the angel. Obviously to her, the sacrifice to receive this interruption was well worth it. Just think, her obedience allowed her to mother the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Her sacrifice allowed God’s will to be done and she was blessed in the process. Let her example encourage you to surrender when divine interruptions show up. God will be glorified and you will be blessed in the process.
Published on Jan 15 @ 3:41 AM EDT
“Fear often stands for “False Expectations Appearing Real.”
I am surprised by the number of people who call themselves Christians but live in almost constant fear. They are afraid of people, afraid of what they might lose or what they might gain, afraid of commitment, or afraid of getting sick.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:7
One of my favorite stories comes from motivational speaker, Les Brown. He talked about living in a neighborhood, during his childhood years, when he had to pass a dog every day on his way to and from school. This dog would bark, growl, and chase after Les every time he saw him so that Les had to run to escape the dog’s wrath.
One day, Les reports heading home from school and he was tired. He was in no mood to run from this mutt but, sure enough, as soon as the dog saw Les he came after him. Les was done with this game and when the dog got to him, he turned around, looked the dog straight in the eyes and yelled, “NO!” The dog stopped, looked at Les, and then opened his mouth. And what happened next? Les says, “The dog had no teeth! The only thing he could do was gum me to death!” Les used this story to teach a valuable lesson about fear. He said, “Fear often stands for “False Expectations Appearing Real.”
I am surprised by the number of people who call themselves Christians but live in almost constant fear. They are afraid of people, afraid of what they might lose or what they might gain, afraid of commitment, or afraid of getting sick. None of this should be true for those of us who truly believe God’s Word and have placed our faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.
And yet, fear must be one of the most common struggles for the disciple of Jesus Christ? How do we know this is true? Because God felt the need to continuously address this issue in His Word. In addition to the above verse from Paul’s second letter to Timothy, look at the following verses:
“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10).
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18).
“ Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
These verses should at least help you to get rid of any sense of shame for being afraid – it happens to all of us! However, despite the fact that all of us struggle with fear, God still commands us regularly to not be afraid. As you can see from 2 Timothy 1:7, fear does not come from God – it is part of our sin condition. And like all sin, we can overcome fear by relying on our faith in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit within us, that spirit of “power and love and self-control.”
So how do we overcome fear? The Lord has actually given us a way to handle fear in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippian church. He writes, “[Do] not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6, ESV). Let me ask you:
- What is your first reaction when you are scared or feel anxious? Do you go to God first?
- When you pray and ask Him for help, do you do it with thanksgiving?
- Are you aware that the very next verse in Philippians comes with a promise? “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, ESV).
Pray, my friend, with thanksgiving. Give God all of your fears for He will gladly take them from you so that you can receive His transcendent peace.
Published on Jan 14 @ 3:39 AM EDT