June 16, 2021 What’s the Latitude of Your Dating Attitude?
Bible Reading: Philippians 2: 1-4
Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing. Philippians 2:4
DID YOUNG NOAH ever take his future bride on a romantic boat ride?
Did Moses ever take his girlfriend to the Saturday night chariot races?
Did Jacob and Rachel go out for pizza and Cokes before they were married?
Did Solomon ever take any of his 700 wives and 300 concubines on a date?
You might never know the answers to those deep dating questions, because you can’t find dating in the Bible-for the same reason you can’t find Sunday school. Sunday school and dating weren’t part of Bible-times society. Back then, most marriages were prearranged by parents (see Genesis 24 for an example).
Just think about how great ready-made marriages would be. No worries about finding a partner. No problem about locating a date for the prom. No more demands from your friends to go out with some loser. No more dateless weekends. Your biggest worry would be figuring out who to double with.
The arranged-marriage plan has drawbacks, however. Your parents might do a deal for you to marry the cutest baby on the block-but in high school he might still be sucking his thumb. Then there’s that little thing called love-which most of us want to find before we marry. And your parents can’t even pick out clothes you like, so how could they pick out a husband or wife you would like? Given those alternatives, you’re probably glad for today’s system of dating.
Although you can’t find dating in the Bible, you can find plenty of Scripture verses that apply to your dating relationships. Most of them have to do with attitudes. Some people enter dating with an attitude of ownership. They think you belong to them and refuse to allow you to live your own life. They act as if you are their private property and want you to fulfill their every whim.
Then there are those who approach dating with an attitude of relationship. They put all the emphasis on being “in love.” They major on the romantic and go ugly with insecurity and jealousy when you go out with another person.
Philippians 2:3-4 expresses the right attitude to have about dating: friendship. The purpose of dating isn’t to meet your needs but the other person’s needs. It isn’t to “fall in love” but to grow in friendship. A relationship rooted in friendship is God’s idea of the appropriate attitude for any two people to have. And that includes two people who are dating.
REFLECT: Are you aiming your affections at someone God would be pleased by? How are you approaching your relationship with an attitude of friendship?
PRAY: Spend some time praying for your attitude toward any future dates with him or her.
June 17, 2021 Who’s Blocking the Light
Bible Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6
You are all children of the light and of the day. 1 Thessalonians 5:5
YESTERDAY ON the way home from school, a passing truck splashed a sheet of mud across Brent’s windshield. No big deal-except Brent had let his car run out of wiper fluid. He could see so little through the smears that he almost swerved across the center line into oncoming traffic. Close call.
Your culture is like that mud-splashed windshield. It doesn’t always let a lot of God’s light into your life. An environment chock-full of apathy or antagonism toward God, the Bible, and Christianity makes it hard for you to see God’s truth. And your true identity is one of the first things covered up by the cultural slop.
How? Well, your culture blinds you to truth through the media. The TV shows and movies you watch and the Internet sites you visit splatter you with misinformation about God and his people. They blind you with a view of you that is far from God’s view.
Your friends might even toss another blinding bucketful of mud your way.
Ask yourself these questions: What kind of people do you hang out with on a daily basis? What do your friends, classmates, and other members of your peer group think about Jesus Christ and the Bible, the two primary sources of God’s light in your life? If you are having difficulty seeing yourself as lovable, valuable, and competent the way God sees you, it might be because God’s truth is being blocked from your view by peers who don’t see you as God does. They might be covering up the truth of your true identity.
The view you have of yourself is powerfully influenced by your peers because you and every other human being alive wants and needs close, personal friendships. To the extent that your all-important peers keep you from seeing God’s view of you, however, they put you at risk of becoming an emotional wreck.
God’s portrait of you shows that he sees you as lovable, valued, and competent. But what if your friends and peers don’t see you that way? What if many of those close to you treat you as if they didn’t give a rip about you? What if your peers subtly or openly avoid you, ignore you, or ridicule you? The more they blind you with lies that you aren’t lovable, valuable, nor competent, the harder it is to see that you are.
REFLECT: Do your close friends see you as God sees you? Is it time to get some new friends?
PRAY: Ask God today to help you allow plenty of his light to flood into your life through your environment and your friends.
June 18, 2021 Are You Sure You’re Sure?
Bible Reading: Isaiah 12:1-6
See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The Lord God is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Isaiah 12:2
LITTLE RICKY was scared to crawl into bed. He had spooky thoughts as he struggled to go to sleep. He saw creepy shapes float across the ceiling. He feared that monsters hid in the dark shadows of his closet.
Believe it or not, there are scarier things. Satan is always trying to make you doubt your salvation-the fact that you really belong to God. He is the one behind the nagging questions that seem to come from nowhere:
- Am I really saved?
- Has anything really changed?
- Why don’t I feel any different?
- Maybe I’m not really a Christian.
- Maybe it didn’t “take” with me like it’s supposed to.
- Maybe I didn’t do it right.
Those doubts are common. But a Christian doesn’t have to feel his salvation in order to have salvation. A Christian doesn’t have to feel different in order to be different, any more than a millionaire has to feel rich in order to be rich. Take a few minutes to absorb the assurance of your salvation from God’s Word.
When Satan attacks you and sets creepy doubts about your salvation loose in your brain, read Isaiah 12:2 aloud several times: “God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The Lord God is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” Then pray this Scripture-based prayer aloud:
Father, you are the one who saves me. Help me to trust and not be afraid. You give me strength and make me sing; you have saved me. Help me to draw near to you with a sincere heart and a sure faith. Let your salvation grab hold of my heart, not only with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit, and with sure knowledge that the gospel is true. Thank you for the assurance that I belong to you-today and forever. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen. (See Isaiah 12:2; Hebrews 10:22)
REFLECT: Do you ever wonder if you are really saved? Spend some time looking up the additional Bible passages listed above.
PRAY: Write out that prayer above. Put it where you can see it often until God’s assurance takes hold in your heart.
June 19, 2021 Commissioned 110 Percent
Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 9:16
Preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t do it! 1 Corinthians 9:16
JASMINE DIDN’T LIKE Missions Fest, an annual conference at her church reminding the congregation of its assignment to reach the world. Every year one or two speakers always made her feel like spiritual slime. They were the ones who had a table at the back of the room for sign-ups to go to Timbuktu-today.
You might wonder what it really means to commit yourself for life to fulfilling the great commission as a rescuer and discipler of non-Christians. It doesn’t mean God drags you screaming to the other side of the world. It simply means:
- You always have a list of non -Christians you are praying for-family members, friends, classmates, neighbors, people you work with, etc.
- You are always making time to relate to and build bridges of communication with the non-Christians God is calling you to reach.
- You are always prepared to share a clear presentation of the gospel.
- You are always ready to disciple those who trust Christ.
If you’re tempted to think that being a rescuer is a chore, remember several things:
- You are privileged to join with God in his mission to liberate people living in darkness. Sharing him with others is one way you worship him and thank him for rescuing you.
- You are empowered for what you are called to do. The Holy Spirit within you makes you totally adequate for the task.
- You will prevail. As you let the Holy Spirit lead and empower you, you will see non-Christians rescued from the dominion of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of God.
Being a lifetime rescuer and discipler isn’t a job, it’s a lifestyle. So whether you’re at school, at work, in a restaurant, at a game, at a party, or wherever, you’re on duty. And you don’t get to retire. God has two ways to let you know when to stop: RIP or Rapture. Until then, you’re still on active duty as a rescuer.
REFLECT: Say it in your own words: What does it mean for you to be a discipler for life?
PRAY: Ask God to guide you in the ministry of discipling that best fits the gifts he has given you.
June 20, 2021 Excuses, Excuses, Excuses!
Bible Reading: Matthew 5:13-16
Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. Matthew 5:16
“WHOA-telling people about Jesus?” you might think. “I have to get my act together first before I can talk about Christ.”
You might be one of a huge number of Christians convinced that their lives aren’t good enough for them to say anything about Christ. That’s a huge problem. How come? You will never completely get your act together. You will always fall short-and always feel guilty, frustrated, and hopeless.
”I’m not good enough” isn’t the only misguided attitude that keeps people from speaking up about Jesus. Some people fear ugly reactions if they tell others about Christ. They don’t want to anger or offend people, so they clam up. Others fear their tongues will knot up if they try to share the gospel. They don’t want to confuse people with anything less than a perfect, complete, persuasive answer.
Each of those attitudes will keep you from being part of God’s massive, exciting work in your world. Here are some ways to rethink those attitudes and see yourself as useful to God-which is exactly how he sees you:
If you think you aren’t “good enough” to witness for Christ, you have a limited sense of God’s love for you. The more you see yourself like God sees you-unconditionally accepted, forgiven, created in his image-the less you will let your imperfections be a barrier to sharing. God wants to use you even while you are “in process,” growing as a Christian.
If you fear the negative reactions you might face as you witness, you have a limited sense of your worth to God. Depending too much on others for approval suggests you have a low view of your worth to God. God thinks so highly of you that he allowed his Son to die for you. You are valued by the King of the universe. Even if everyone refuses to listen to you, you are still of high value to God.
If you are reluctant to witness because you fear you will say the wrong thing, you have a limited sense of your competence in Christ. If you fear stumbling over your words, you’re saying to God, “I know you want me to witness, but you’ll need to use somebody more skilled and confident, because I’m not any good at this.”
Witnessing doesn’t start with what you say or how well you say it. Your starting point is knowing who you are in Christ. You are God’s beloved child-unique and useful to him just the way you are.
REFLECT: What keeps you from speaking up about Christ? Is there anything about how you see yourself that God wants to fix?
PRAY: God, I just want to be who you created me to be. Help me to share my faith the best I know how and leave the results to you.
June 21, 2021Filling Up The Train To Heaven
Bible Reading: 2 Peter 3:9-16 [The Lord] does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent. 2 Peter 3:9
”I’M REALLY not interested in hearing how special God thinks I am,” Megan protested. “People who focus on themselves end up totally selfish. I can’t see how thinking about me helps me glorify God and show the world how great he is.”
God wants you to see yourself like he sees you: lovable, valuable, and useful to him and to others. But why? Is it just to make you feel warm and fuzzy? Could he possibly want to feed your selfish side? No and no. God wants you totally convinced that you are loved and valuable because he has a far deeper purpose for fixing your faulty self-image-but it’s because he has work for you to do.
You might not realize this incredible fact about yourself: You are God’s gift to the world. If that wasn’t true, you’d just be taking up space. God could have zoomed you straight to heaven the moment you trusted Christ. The fact that he chooses to have you hang around on earth even after you belong to him proves that you have a distinct purpose for being here.
So what’s your purpose in life? I like how one young guy answered that question. “My purpose in life,” he said confidently, “is to go to heaven and take as many people with me as I can.” That guy knew that Christ had made him alive and set him free so he would be equipped set others free.
I hope you have the same burning desire to be part of God’s plan of redemption. When you get the picture that God created everyone in his image and sent Christ to die for everyone, you want to share his love with them. And when you realize that you too are lovable, valuable, and competent, suddenly you give from a heart jammed with the love of Jesus.
You may say, “If the whole reason I’m here is to lead people to Jesus, then I’m a rotten failure. Hardly anyone-no one-has come to Christ from my telling them about him.” That might be true. But it’s also likely to be true that a bunch of people are on their way to trusting Christ because of who you are in Christ and how you love them.
If as a Christian you see yourself as God’s valued child, you are communicating something of the gospel to others. As you live out your faith-and learn to speak up for Christ when the opportunities arise-you will likely see even more people come to Christ.
REFLECT: Say it in your own words: How does knowing you are lovable, capable, and competent not make you a selfish person?
PRAY: Lord, I want my purpose in life to reflect your purpose of reaching out and telling the world of your love.
June 22, 2021 He Is Who He Says He Is
Bible Reading: John 10:22-33
The Father and I are one. John 10:30
“JESUS DIDN’T really claim to be God,” Alexis argued across the table. “So what if people around him said he was God? His followers just made up what they wanted to believe about him. Jesus himself never said anything about being God.”
Despite the arguments of people like Alexis, it isn’t hard to spot places in the New Testament where Jesus claimed his own deity. One businessman who scrutinized the Scriptures to see whether or not Christ claimed to be God put it this way: “For anyone to read the New Testament and not conclude that Jesus claimed to be divine, he would have to be as blind as a man standing outdoors on a clear day saying he can’t see the sun.”
One example: In the Gospel of John you see a conflict between Jesus and some Jews–a confrontation triggered by Jesus’ curing a lame man on the Sabbath and then telling him to go for a celebration hike with his bedroll. “So the Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules. But Jesus replied, ‘My Father never stops working, so why should IT So the Jewish leaders tried all the more to kill him. In addition to disobeying the Sabbath rules, he had spoken of God as his Father, thereby making himself equal with God” (John 5:16-18).
You would think that a healing would cause everyone to throw a party and live happily ever after. So why did the leaders blow up about Jesus’ words? Because he said “my Father,” not “our Father,” and then added, “never stops working, so why should I?” Jesus’ use of these two phrases made himself equal with God-on par with God’s activity. The Jews never referred to God as “my Father,” only as “our Father.”That sounds subtle to us, but it was astounding to the Jews. By claiming that God was his Father, Jesus identified himself as one with God. And by saying that he was working just as the Father was working, Jesus boldly implied that he was God’s Son.
Jesus didn’t just claim equality with God as his Father. He also asserted he was one with the Father. Another example: Once when Jesus was approached by some Jewish leaders asking about his being the Christ, he ended his answer to them by saying, “The Father and I are one” (John 10:30). The leaders started rock collecting right then and there. They were ready to stone him-all because, as they said, “You, a mere man, have made yourself God” (verse 33). What Jesus stated clearly as truth, the Jewish leaders took as blasphemy.
Jesus didn’t hide the fact that he was God. His enemies just didn’t believe him. But his claim was clear. He was no ordinary man. He was God’s Son.
REFLECT: What did Jesus claim about himself? Are you clear on that?
PRAY: Jesus, you are more than a human being. You are the Son of God.
June 23, 2021 Poor Doubting Thomas
Bible Reading: John 20:24-29
Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe! John 20:27
THOMAS HAS been the victim of a lot of bad press. Okay, so his reputation isn’t as bad as that of Judas, the guy who betrayed Jesus. He might not even rank with Peter, who denied the Lord three times on the eve of his crucifixion. But Thomas is usually classed among the “bad boys” of the disciples, the twelve men closest to Jesus during his three years of ministry.
Thomas owes his bad-boy reputation to an incident following Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus had appeared to the disciples behind closed doors. But Thomas wasn’t with them. When they told Thomas the news of Jesus’ resurrection, he responded, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side” (John 20:25). When Jesus later appeared to Thomas, the Lord took him up on his offer. He said, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” (verse 27).
Many people come down hard on Thomas because of his doubt. But they forget that none of the other disciples believed until they, too, had seen evidence of the Resurrection. Everyone else had already seen Jesus’ hands and side. What’s more, Jesus didn’t say to Thomas, “You should never have doubted.” Instead, he showed his disciple the evidence and then said, “Stop doubting.” And finally, when Thomas did see the evidence, he uttered one of the great confessions of faith in history, calling Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” (verse 28).
For some reason, we let ourselves think of doubt as only a bad thing. “Real Christians don’t doubt,” we say. That’s a myth. Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it’s the forefather of faith. Doubt doesn’t cancel faith; it should give way to faith. In fact, as in Thomas’s case, doubt can be the impetus that leads us to the truth.
“Faith grows through seeking truth, and the seeker must ask questions, and questioning means ‘honest doubt,’ ” write Gordon and William Brown in Romans: Gospel of Freedom and Grace. “The original meaning of the Greek word for ‘doubt,’ skeptikos, is ‘inquirer.’ ”
The Thomas myth-that real Christians don’t doubt-doesn’t come from the Bible. The lessons to be learned from Thomas’s experience are that doubt is natural, that you can be honest about your doubts, and that honest doubt should give way to faith when Jesus reveals the truth to you. Jesus doesn’t want you to hide your doubts from him. He loves you, and he understands your questions.
REFLECT: What doubts keep you from following Jesus completely?
PRAY: Share your doubts with God and allow him to answer them in his own way.
This weeks devotions are courtesy of Josh.org