Day 26 – 40 Days with Jesus Devotions

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“Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.” – Matthew 5:8

A simple faith. That is exactly what Jesus has made available for us. When He came on the scene in the first century, the Jewish faith was anything but simple. The experts in the law and other religious leaders had made faith in God a tedious and intricate system of performance-based rules and regulations. Everywhere you turned, you were judged by what other people saw. If you did something good for someone else that required a little effort on the Sabbath you were brought before the judges to receive your penalty. If you didn’t wash your hands properly the “clean police” would come and pick you up. Ok, so I might be exaggerating a bit. But not much. These are two laws the Pharisees accused Jesus and His disciples of breaking. Jesus’ response? It’s not our performance or behavior that gains the favor of God. It’s a matter of the heart instead.

A life that is blessed by God is not based on performance or rule-keeping. Being accepted and blessed by God is a matter of internal transformation. It is a transformation from within that manifests itself without. Living a life that pleases God is simply the outward manifestation of an inward reality. We don’t perform in order to be accepted by God. We perform because He has already accepted us (“to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.”Ephesians 1:6).

We must understand that a life of simple faith is linked to a pure heart. A pure heart is one that is not mixed with anything that is impure. The word “pure” was often used of metals that had been refined until all impurities were removed, leaving only the pure metal. In that sense, purity means unmixed, unalloyed, unadulterated. Applied to the heart, the idea is that of pure motive—of single-mindedness, undivided devotion, spiritual integrity, and true righteousness. If a film were made about someone who lived this kind of completely sincere life in both private and public, there would be no need to edit. You could video that person at church or at home, at work or at play, and you would catch no contradictions.

If we live pure in heart we will live transparently. We would have no guile, no hidden motives. How seldom do any of us even approach anything near that standard. While it is true that we cannot live in pure perfection, this beatitude implies that life can be lived without masks. “Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.”What does this mean? I believe this means that if we are willing to be honest with how we feel, open with why we do what we do, and sincerely trust God to form in us His life and His will, we will see God work. We will see Him doing awesome things in our lives.

Take off the mask. Quit acting all pious so others will think you’re all that and more. Risk being real. That, by the way, is what God wants. He doesn’t want actors. (For a little review, go back and read Day 17 again.) He wants real people connecting with other real people in real ways. Then, and only then, will we be able to have real community. Those who are hurting will never connect with those who exude an air that they have it all together. Why do you think James said, “Confess your faults one to another”? (James 5:16a) The truth is: none of us have it all together. We simply know the One who does!

Get Real!

Have a Great Day!

Day 23 – 40 Days with Jesus Devotion

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“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21

Where’s yours?

It’s interesting how as human beings we are so thing-oriented. It tends to be especially prevalent in prosperous cultures like ours. What’s your thing? Is it money? Is it amassing wealth? Your house? Car? Gadgets? Hobbies? Children? Spouse? That’s right. The things we may treasure above God are not only inanimate objects.

Also, given a few minutes and a peek at your pocketbook, I can tell you exactly what your treasure is and where you’re keeping it. And no, I’m not Carnac the Magnificent. The fact is our treasure is not very difficult to identify. It is anything that is tangible and has a price tag. Our money flows to and follows our treasure. This is the way it works. If we don’t think something is important enough, we won’t waste our money on it. If it’s important to us, we will spend money on it. We make choices everyday. We spend (whether it’s time or money) for that which we value. Our earthly treasure is anything we can see, touch, or measure. Our heavenly treasure would include the intangible, unseen, priceless assets which will survive the transition from earth to heaven.

Jesus’ choice of words, lay up (thēsaurizō) and treasures (thēsauros), conjures up an image in my mind of an old miser with a greedy grin in a dark lamp-lit room at a table piled high with gold coins. Both of these words come from the same root word from which we get our English thesaurus, a treasury of words. These words also originally carried the idea of stacking up or laying out horizontally like a person would stack coins. So with our things, we might be like this miser, obsessed with keeping track and hoarding the material things we value and never using them for the kingdom of God. They key is, who are they for? Jesus specifically said to not lay up treasures for ourselves. When we accumulate treasures for ourselves with the intent to hoard them or to spend selfishly, those treasures become our idols.

Just like Jesus’ teaching on prayer and giving, we should be careful not to misunderstand His intent. Jesus never said that praying in public or giving where others might see is necessarily wrong. Neither is He saying that having wealth or many possessions is wrong. There is a difference between having our possessions and our possessions having us. We must not infer from this teaching that poverty is the means to spirituality. Many of the Old Testament patriarchs were stinkin’ rich, and God kept giving more to them. The problem is not how much we have, it’s our attitude toward how much we have (or don’t have) that makes the difference.

Think for a moment and consider a self-analysis. As you think about what you possess and how you use those possessions, take a few moments and ask yourself why you own those things. Having just read Jesus’ teaching, can you honestly say your heart is not set on physical treasures? Is your giving generous? Are you quick to give up your time and resources to help others? Are you living open-handed or close-fisted? Do you genuinely appreciate God’s provision as a means of building His kingdom?

No matter how hard we work to amass things here on this earth, the fact still remains; we can’t take it with us. Only what has been invested in God’s kingdom will endure into eternity. Let’s be careful to invest, not simply possess.

Have a Great Day!

Day 22 – 40 Days with Jesus Devotion

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“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” – Matthew 6:16-18

For many, fasting is what you do after midnight before you have blood work done or before you go in for surgery. That’s not exactly what Jesus meant. The fasting He is referring to is abstaining from some or all food for a period of time to humble ourselves before God. But as with any other spiritual practice, it has the potential to be misused in a hypocritical way. Such was the case with the religious folks in Jesus’ day. There were those who attempted to make their religious rituals obvious so others could take notice and see how “pious” they were. It was all for show.

This reminds me of a church bulletin I heard about that read: National Prayer and Fasting Conference announcement: “The cost to attend the Fasting and Prayer Conference includes meals.” That probably makes sense in some universe.

There are many reasons why people may fast. Historically, ancient pagans believed that demons could enter their body through food. So when they felt they were under demonic attack they would abstain from food to keep any more spirits from gaining access to their bodies. In modern times fasting has come into vogue for cosmetic and health reasons. Fasting is a part of many diets. In the Old Testament, the only time fasting is commanded it is linked with the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:29; cf. 23:27).

In much the same way that Jesus dealt with giving and praying, He now deals with fasting. He talks about how not to do it, and then, how to do it. Although fasting is only commanded in relation to the Old Testament Day of Atonement, Jesus said that there would be other times we might consider humbling ourselves before God for some spiritual purpose, for example, when you fast…

So let’s say you’ve decided to fast. What’s the wrong way? The wrong way to fast is similar to the wrong way to pray and to give. We should not give, pray or fast in order to call attention to ourselves. This is what many were doing in the first century. As a matter of fact, when they fasted they would assume a gloomy, depressing face, neglect their appearance, dab on a little dirt and few ashes, and muss up their hair and beard. Some even stooped to using makeup to look sickly and pale so as to appear to others they were suffering a tremendous burden for the sake of their godliness. Some would even time their fast to coincide with the busy market days a couple of times a week so they could maximize their “airtime.”

Jesus said, “Don’t do that!” He again reminds His followers that it’s not the appearance that counts, it’s the heart. We may appear saintly on the exterior while hiding self-righteousness and hideous pride. Jesus said those who stoop to theatrics in order to be noticed by others have already received their reward. They’ve been seen. That’s it. They’re getting nothing from God. All they got was what they wanted – to be noticed by others.

So how do we do it if choose to fast? For starters, don’t brag about it and don’t publicize it. But we should also be careful not to lie about it. Remember, it’s the heart motive that God sees. Let’s say you’ve chosen to fast this Thursday. Everything’s going great until a friend invites you to lunch. What do you do? You could go the hypocritical route and respectfully decline in a mournful tone saying that you would love to go because you’re so hungry, but cannot because you are “faaaaasting.” Or you could flat-out lie about it and say that you’re not hungry. But what if they press you as to your reason for hurting their feelings for not wanting to eat with them? In this case simple honesty may save the day without compromising your motives.

There’s no need to attend a conference on fasting where you would go out for a few hours to fast and pray and end up going out that evening to the nearest “all you can eat” buffet. That would defeat the purpose wouldn’t it?

So think about it. With proper precautions, fasting is good for you. Both spiritually and physically. It can assist you in focusing an extended period of time on God and can also provide a healthy dose of self-discipline. I have found that fasting can serve to help me reprioritize my life and allows the petty annoyances and troubles to fade into the background. When you do fast, take Jesus’ advice. When you think you’re beginning to look a little glum, go wash your face and spruce up a bit. After all, you’re doing it for God, not for others to notice.

Just wondering, have you ever fasted? If so, what benefits have you experienced? Please leave your comments below.

Have a Great Day!

Day 21 – 40 Days with Jesus Devotion

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“Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.” – Matthew 5:7

So what’s the big deal about mercy? It probably wouldn’t be a big deal except for the fact that we all need it. For our definition, mercy is simply concern for people in need. The word for mercy that Jesus used means “not simply possessed of pity but actively compassionate.” We are all at times moved by pity at needs of others. But the question is, “what do we do about it?” Jesus is not saying that we should pity everyone. What He is saying is that if we see someone in need, we should be moved by compassion and do something about it.

The times in which Jesus lived were not known for mercy. The Jewish religionists in His day were not particularly inclined to show mercy. Why not? Well, compassion is not characteristic of those who are proud, self-righteous and judgmental. I’ve heard it said that mercy is God’s ministry to the miserable. It is not merely feeling bad for someone in dire straights; it means identifying with those who are hurting and imagining the pain they are having to endure, then doing something about it.

As I think about mercy and compassion, the best example that comes to mind is the actions of the Good Samaritan, the traveler who stopped to help a man who had been mugged, beaten, and left by the side of the road to die. At least two religious leaders walked past the injured man. Maybe they were preoccupied with reviewing their memory verses or going over their impressive “to-do” lists for the day. The fact is they did not stop to help their fellow man in need. Then along came the Samaritan. As he passed by, he put himself in the injured man’s place. The question probably popped into his mind, “What if that were me and somebody else was standing where I am. What would I want them to do?” He decided to take time and cleaned the man’s wounds. He even loaded the man on his donkey and carried him to the nearest inn for the night. Before leaving him he asked the innkeeper to “put it on his tab.”

Mercy is not simply some feeling of sympathy or sadness over somebody in trouble. It’s more than that. It’s getting inside other people’s skin, imagining yourself in their shoes (and whatever other metaphor you can think of), feeling what they feel, understanding theirmisery and then helping them through it.

And just in case the Good Samaritan’s story doesn’t grab you and move you to action, here are a couple more entreaties from God:

“If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” – James 2:15-17

“But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” – 1 John 3:17

Can I share a secret with you? I’m not naturally compassionate. That’s right. I don’t feel pain for other people automatically. Except for those I love and care for close to me, I’m usually oblivious to the needs and pains of others. But lately, it’s as if God has been punching me in the side and makingme feel the pain of others and imagining, “What if it were me?”

So where do we begin? Begin with what you see. There are plenty hurting people around us. There are plenty of hurting people around the world. There are injustices just about everywhere we look. For example, there are a billion people that live on $1.00 or less per day. There are 26,000 children who die of starvation and preventable diseases every day around the world. To put that in perspective, it would be like every elementary age child in Calcasieu, Beauregard, Allen, and Jefferson Davis parish would be dead tomorrow. The same thing would happen the day after, and the day after that, and so on. There are other injustices that are occurring every day that if you heard about it, it would make your blood boil you would be so angry.

So what? You may not be able to change the world, but you can change someone’sworld. There are many options for you to get involved today. It could be volunteering at the local women’s shelter. It might be giving some of your time or resources to one of our crisis pregnancy centers. Maybe it’s foster care or adoption. It might be sponsoring a child in a third-world country. It may not be much, but it will matter for someone.

Here are some possibilities to get you started:

These are just ideas to get you started. The important thing is not what or who, but when and how. Compassion is not simply a feeling. It should move us to action.

What are some ways you are making a difference for those in need? Help us with what God has shown you. Please leave your ideas in the comments below.

Have a Great Day!

Day 20 40 Days with Jesus Devotion

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“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” – Matthew 6:14-15

This is interesting…Jesus adds a postscript to His explanation of how to pray. It must be an important concept because it’s the only one of the petitions to which He gives additional commentary. In this way He raises the importance of forgiveness. Not simply receiving forgiveness from God, but dispensing forgiveness to others.

Are you withholding forgiveness from someone who has wronged you? You may be like this old farmer. One day a visitor leaned on the old fence around a farm while he watched an old farmer plowing with a mule. After a while, the visitor said, “I don’t like to tell you how to run your business, but you could save yourself a lot of work by saying, ‘Gee’ and ‘Haw’ to that mule instead of just tugging on those lines.” The old farmer pulled a big handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his face. Then he said, “Reckon you’re right, but this animal kicked me five years ago and I haven’t spoke to him since.”

The reality is a grudge is harder on the person who holds it than on the one who it is held against. Without realizing it, choosing not to forgive someone will begin to hurt us physically, emotionally and spiritually. Jesus knows that and teaches accordingly.

He begins with a positive principle. We are to forgive as those who have received forgiveness (Eph. 1:7; 1 John 2:1-2) from God. When our hearts are filled with such a forgiving spirit, our heavenly Father will also forgive us. It is also much more difficult for us to appreciate a rich fellowship with God which is based on parental forgiveness when we are harboring an unforgiving spirit toward others. The word forgive as used by Jesus means literally “to hurl away”. Not only is an unforgiving spirit inconsistent for one who has been totally forgiven by God, but it also brings the chastening of God (Matthew 18:21-35).

In the next verse Jesus states the truth of verse 14 in a negative way for emphasis. The sin of an unforgiving heart and a bitter spirit (Heb. 12:15) may cause us to forfeit blessings and invites judgment. We must be careful not to demean God’s mercy. For us to receive complete, undeserved pardon from God and withhold the same treatment from others is the epitome of abuse of mercy. James says, “judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).

Here are a few practical ways to keep from becoming bitter while forgiving others:

· Don’t be judgmental or hypercritical of others.

· Don’t become bitter or hostile.

· Don’t plan to take revenge.

· Don’t hold hard feelings against another person.

· Don’t talk about, gossip, or join in rumor; on the contrary, we correct the rumor.

· Don’t rejoice in trouble and trials that fall upon another person.

· Do love and pray for that person.

We cannot walk in fellowship with God while refusing to forgive others.

Have a Great Day!

I know this is a hard one. I would love to hear how forgiveness has revolutionized your life. Either by being on the giving end or the receiving end. Comment below.

Day 19 – 40 Days with Jesus Devotion

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“And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’” – Matthew 6:7-13

To rote, or not to rote, that is the question. Sorry, Shakespeare for that lame reference. Oh, well…in today’s devotion Jesus is still talking about prayer and its do’s and don’ts. He continues here by beginning with the negative.

One of the definitions of the word “rote” is a habitual or mechanical routine or procedure performed by repetition. Why would someone memorize a “prayer” and repeat it over and over again? That’s obviously what many were doing in Jesus’ day when He taught this. One reason to memorize prayers and perform them by rote repetition is that it makes it easier to perform the ritual of prayer without actually having to think about what we are saying. Just like today, people over 2,000 years ago were looking for ways to “automate” their lives. It made prayer easier and demanded little concentration. To these people, prayer was a matter of required religious ceremony. But this is not limited to memorized prayers. I often find myself not even thinking about what I just prayed before I started eating. I may not have prayed a memorized prayer, but did I really think about what I said and mean it from the heart or did I pray something similar to the last 500 times I ate? Prayer that is thoughtless and indifferent is offensive to God, and should also be offensive to us.

Just as in Jesus’ previous statements, we should not jump to conclusions. Jesus did not forbid the repetition of genuine requests. In the Garden of Gethsemane, as He faced the agony of the cross, Jesus prayed the same prayer three times in a row (Matt. 26:39-44). The difference is He understood and meant each word as He said it. It’s not honest, properly motivated repetition of needs and praises to God that are wrong, but the mindless, indifferent recital of spiritual-sounding incantations or formulas over and over. Our prayer should be from the heart and thoughtfully presented.

In this section of Jesus’ teaching He gives a model or “sample” prayer. It is not necessarily the “Lord’s Prayer” as it has come to be known. We could more accurately call it the “Disciple’s Prayer” since Jesus gave it to the disciples as an example of how to pray. He didn’t say, “Pray this prayer.” He said, “Pray in this way” or “In this manner”.

In this “sample” prayer I see two main ingredients. First, we should begin with our focus on the Lord: His person, His name, His rule, and His will. Second, we move to our needs:

  • Give us…our daily bread.
  • Forgive us our debts.
  • Deliver us from evil.

All too often we rush in to our prayer time and move immediately to our laundry list of needs and wants (that is, if we have gotten beyond the rote, vain repetitions). God deserves our reverence and attention.

The next time you go to God in prayer, take a few moments and begin by praising Him and reverencing His name. Imagine yourself in God’s presence and treasure the time you spend with Him. It may very well revolutionize your prayer life.

I’m just curious…Do you still use memorized prayers? If you do, do you find that you are able to concentrate on and mean from the heart what you are saying to God? Let me know in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you.

Have a Great Day!

Day 18 – 40 Days with Jesus Devotions

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“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” – Matthew 6:5-6

Hypocrisy on parade. That’s what we might call the show put on by the religious leaders in Jesus’ day. They were praying to the wrong audience, with the wrong purpose, and for the wrong motives. Just as He talked about giving with the wrong motive, it is possible for us to pray for the wrong reasons and not be fully engaged in what we are saying.

The story is told of a man who sat down to supper with his family and said grace, thanking God for the food, for the hands which prepared it, and for the source of all life. But during the meal he complained about the freshness of the bread, the bitterness of the coffee, and the sharpness of the cheese. His young daughter questioned him, “Dad, do you think God heard the grace today?”

He answered confidently, “Of course.”

Then she asked, “And do you think God heard what you said about the coffee, the cheese, and the bread?”

Not so confidently, he answered, “Why, yes, I believe so.”

The little girl concluded, “Then which do you think God believed, Dad?”

Slowly he began to realize that he had allowed hypocrisy to creep into his prayer life. If we are not careful, the same thing may happen to us.

In today’s text, Jesus is not discouraging public prayer any more than He was discouraging giving earlier. What He was talking about was playing the role of the hypocrite when going through the motions of prayer. The professionals of Jesus’ day made prayer formal, repetitive, regulated and overdone. They had, in effect, put religion on display.

Based on what Jesus is saying, what should we not do when praying?

  • Do not be hypocritical
  • Do not seekto be seen while praying
  • Do not limit your praying to public places
  • Do not use meaningless repetition

Now what should we do?

  1. To spend quality time with God, get alone with Him. Find a place that is quiet and pour out your soul to Him. Remember, He is to be your audience. It’s fine to lead in prayer in a group, but don’t do it to be heard by others. Even in public you should still pray for an audience of one.
  2. Keep it simple. God doesn’t pay more attention because we use the King’s English, pray exceptionally long prayers, or because we use a continuous stream of repetitive words. God’s not looking for a formula or the same prayer prayed over and over. How would you like it if your friends and family spoke to you only in memorized, repetitive speeches multiple times in a row? Wouldn’t you prefer them to get real and speak from the heart? I don’t think God is any different. We’ll have more on that tomorrow.

Go ahead. Find that quiet place and pour out your heart to God. He’s already waiting for you.

Just wondering…where’s your “quiet place”? Let us know in the comments section below. We value your feedback!

Have a Great Day!

Day 17 – 40 Days with Jesus Devotion

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“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.” – Matthew 6:1-4

“Pardon me, but your religion is showing.”

It was very common in Jesus’ day for the religious leaders to make pleasing God an Academy Award-winning performance. They went to extreme lengths to appear to others as being outwardly righteous. So pervasive was their performance-based piety that Jesus used the word theaomai(“to be seen by them”) to refer to their outward acts of righteousness. This Greek word is related to the word from which we get “theater”. Their good deeds were for show. They liked comparing themselves to others. Jesus called them hypocrites.

Simple faith is not a long series of religious performances. The Christian life is not even about doing good. Micah, the Old Testament prophet, summed up simple faith extremely well. Here is his definition:

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8

Did you get that? Have you ever thought how complicated we make living a life that pleases God? What is required?

  • To do justice
  • To love mercy
  • To walk humbly with your God

So simple. The sooner we believe and understand that righteousness is more than simply what we “do” or “do not do”, and start living like that, the quicker we will understand the true meaning of the Christian life as God meant it. The Christian life is not meant to be a theater production performed behind a mask. Those who are genuine are not afraid to be seen for who they are.

Let’s take a moment now to unpack the example Jesus used to unmask religious performance. He used the practice of alms-giving. “Giving alms” in the first century was considered synonymous with “righteousness.” It was the act of giving to the poor. These “actors” (the Pharisees) made a big show of giving so they could be seen of men and thereby be judged as righteous by onlookers. Jesus says they are hypocritical because they did it with the purpose of being seen so they could appear to be righteous.

So what does that mean for us today? It means be careful that we don’t make pleasing God a big performance. It’s less about the what and the how and more about the why.

I would like to stop here for a second and unmask an unfortunate distortion of Jesus’ teaching about giving. There are many well-meaning Christians who take Jesus’ words here hyper-literally and elevate the secrecy of their giving to a matter of national security. I believe there are two reasons for this. First, they are paranoid that they might sin by someone else inadvertently seeing how much they gave. Second, it might be that they are not faithful in giving at least the tithe, and they are afraid someone else might find out that they are robbing God. Either way, it is an unfortunate distortion of what Jesus taught.

Jesus is not necessarily advocating that we must give with the stealth of a CIA operative, but is rather addressing motive. It’s not wrong for others to know. It’s wrong to wantothers to know so we can appear to be what we are not.

Let’s be genuine.

How do you keep from making pleasing God a big performance? Let us know.

Have a Great Day!

Day 16 – 40 Days with Jesus Devotion

Day 16 - 40 Days with Jesus Devotion image

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.” – Matthew 5:6

Happy are the hungry. As I am writing today’s devotional thought, all I can think of is food. The smell of shrimp étouffée is wafting from the kitchen and interacting with my olfactory senses and telegraphing those signals to my stomach. Needless to say, it’s making me even hungrier than I already was. It would be safe to say I’m passionately waiting for it to be ready.

Today’s beatitude speaks of strong desire. It is referring to a passionate ambition of the soul. An insatiable hunger to know God intimately and to model His ways personally. We must be careful not to misunderstand what Jesus is saying. He is not talking about simply increasing our knowledge of God-facts or biblical knowledge. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but knowledge alone is never the goal of the Christian life. He’s talking about a life whose goal is to honor, obey and glorify God by aligning oneself with God’s character.

The average person’s goal is to gratify their own desires and ambitions and satisfy their own egos. In Jesus’ counsel to “hunger and thirst” for righteousness, He is undoubtedly referring to a submission of the will, and the desire to weave all that God desires for us and His purpose into our everyday life.

Jesus is not advocating for us to cloister ourselves away in a monastery somewhere and chant all day long. Instead, “hungering and thirsting” for righteousness means taking God seriously and finding out how perfectly His truth fits into real-world experience. Just like our physical appetites, this spiritual appetite is an ongoing desire. I ate a good breakfast this morning, but by noon I am ready to be filled again by that shrimp étouffée cooking on the stove.

And what does Jesus say will come to those who have this insatiable desire and longing for God? He says they will be filled or satisfied. Rather than being victims of spiritual starvation or trying to fill up on philosophical and spiritual junk food and never being completely satisfied, “they shall be filled.”

Our society is marked by a longing for more. A constant search for fulfillment and never quite attaining that elusive “enough.” Jesus says that the way to happiness, the way to being truly blessed, is by cultivating a hunger and thirst for what only God can provide. This comes by way of a Spirit-prompted desire that will lead a person to a saving relationship with Jesus and keep him strong and faithful once he is in the kingdom. It’s the only desire, or ambition that, when fulfilled brings true, lasting happiness.

Are you hungry today? For what do you hunger and thirst? Let God satisfy your longing. His pantry never runs low. His well never runs dry.

By the way, lunch was awesome! I wonder what’s for dinner…

Have a Great Day!

BTW…How do you work up an appetite and keep up your hunger for your relationship with God? Let us know by commenting below.

Courageous – Advanced Screening

At this time we are planning an advanced screening of the Sherwood Pictures movie Courageous at the Lake Charles Cinemark theater on Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 7:00 pm. Our plans are to provide the tickets free of charge to our area law enforcement families. Pray with us as we reach our goal for 250 tickets.

Here is a preview of the movie.