Devotionals

71 posts

Bare Necessities

by Hannah Alford

What are your bare necessities? If you had to pack a bag with things you “need” and didn’t have anything else, would you have enough? How big would the bag have to be to hold everything? Often times we think of physical things when it comes to the bare necessities, but let’s put that on the back burner for a second and think about what the bare necessities of our worshiping God would look like. Baloo tells us to…

“Look for the Bare Necessities,

The simple bare necessities,

Forget about you worries and your strife…”

When it comes to being a Christian ,the bare necessities, the essentials to being in a relationship with God, is prayer. Philippians 4: 6-7 states “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard you heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.” Before you can build a relationship with God, there needs to be a foundation. Prayer can be used as a direct line to God, where you put forth your praises or requests, and as you do this you will become closer and closer to God. So think about your bare necessities this week, whether that be your phone, your time with your friends, good grades, or etc. and try to add prayer to that list and watch as you start growing your relationship with God.

Bare Necessities

the jungle book friendship GIF by Disney

by Ruth Hallstead

 

What does the Lord require? Think on that for a minute. Of course, we’ve got the Ten Commandments, the social principles, the Book of Discipline, and the entire Bible, just to name a few resources that can help us answer that question. Sometimes trying to follow all those specific rules can be exhausting, and confusing at times. What exactly does honoring your father and mother mean? What if you read something out of the Bible that doesn’t sound like loving your neighbor? What if you fall asleep before reading all 800 pages of the Book of Discipline? What happens when one verse seems to contradict another? Surely there is a simpler way… Look no further than Micah 6:8. Micah was a prophet during one of the worst times Israel’s history, and he spoke these words as a guide to the struggling Israelites. “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”. The answer to that rhetorical question is: nothing. As you dig deeper, you begin to realize that those three things are anything but simple to accomplish. However, they are simple to understand (except maybe the last part, and for that we can turn to the message translation of walking humbly, “don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously”. God is the main event, we are here to follow Him). That is all God asks of us. Do good through doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with Him. Those other resources are there to aid us in accomplishing this, strengthen us in times of weakness, and provide guidance when we feel lost. There is value in every single one of them, so long as you never lose sight of the big picture. Don’t drown in laws, words, and complicated directions. Focus on the bare necessities. Do justice. Love Kindness. Walk humbly with God.

Silly Love Songs

So, there’s this verse that practically every child who was raised in the church knows backward, forward, upside down, and maybe in a second language that they don’t even speak. But when I started thinking about God’s love, I just started thinking that they chose to teach us this verse for a reason. So, you may have figured it out by now but even if you know it by heart let’s go there first:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Despite (or maybe because of) that being drilled into me at VBS, it still feels special. In that verse, Jesus is talking to a Pharisee named Nicodemus who had come to talk to Jesus, in awe of His teaching and power to perform miracles. Basically, Nicodemus knew Jesus had an in with God. Jesus tells him he must be reborn and then hits him with the verse above (okay I left out a little in the middle. As always, I recommend checking it out here.). In the next chapter, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman and, breaking all cultural norms, gives her a similar invitation. It’s so cool to me that those stories are almost back to back because what it shows us is that it doesn’t matter where we are on the social/economic/moral/whateverelse scale – Jesus is inviting both the top of society and the lowest. None of that before matters because, like Nicodemus, we have the chance to be reborn and find our identity as a child of God. And no matter who you are or what you’ve done, you are SO loved by God. So loved, in fact, that He gave up His only son just so He could spend eternity with you. And, yeah, dying on the cross was painful but the beauty of that love is He would do it again because that’s how big He loves you.

Maybe you’re not so sure about all of this yet. Maybe you feel like your sin is too big. Maybe you’ve been busy or distracted and it’s been a while since you let yourself get really connected to Jesus. Maybe the love expressed in John 3:16 feels a little foreign or intimidating right now. There are so many other maybes to put here, but I’m here to say I know the feeling. Sometimes, I get so caught up in my head that I choose to ignore God’s love in favor of my own insecurities or shame. “God’s grace may be resistible in the short run, but, in the long run, God’s love is inexhaustible,” is a quote that I found in the back of an old Bible that always reminds me that no matter where I’m at, God’s love is bigger.

So, I end with two ideas if you’re looking for extra ways to put today’s devo in action:

  1. Go back to the verse above and replace “the world” with your name. Spend 30 extra seconds resting in God’s grace and peace as you start your day.
  2. Keep an eye out today and count 5 ways God’s showing you His love
    1. If you’re feeling really ambitious, share with a friend – who knows, maybe you’ll become one of their ways

Silly Love Songs

by Ruth Hallstead

The majority of the old testament can be summed up fairly simply. Adam and Eve/humans/the Israelites screwed up. God punished them. God forgave them and gave them another chance. They screwed up again. The same people, generation after generation, fell short of God’s expectations. Really short. Yet He never gave up on them! How’s that for motivation… At first glance, it’s pretty awful. Seems like whatever you do will be forgiven no matter what, so the heck with living right. Take another look though, and this is the ultimate motivation; especially in the context of our (sometimes broken, often messed up, at times seemingly hopeless) relationships with others. God stayed with our sinful, cowardly, selfish selves through slavery, wandering in the desert, falling in with the sinners around us, idolatry, and into exile. In Jeremiah’s time, it seemed like the end was here. Thrown into exile, it appeared that God had finally given up on His people. But He hadn’t. Speaking through Jeremiah, God said “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” (Jeremiah 31:3). God didn’t (and won’t!) give up despite continuous heartbreak. Think on that for a minute. Or better yet throughout the day. His love was and is and always will be there—it is everlasting. Our job is to bring that love to the world. Use God’s tireless love as your model. Who have you given up on? Who have you counted as lost? Love them again today. Whatever that may look like for you, love them. It may be a long process of learning and forgiving, and it may seem one sided, but it’s never too late to love someone again. Remember the everlasting love encompassing you, and pass it on.

 

The One With the New Testament Stories

perfect GIF

by Paul Selden

Throughout life, we’ve all had our fair share of mistakes: not studying for a test, forgetting a family member’s birthday, saying something hurtful to a friend, or simply falling into temptation over and over again.  Some of these more critical mistakes are considered sin, or separation from God.  Jesus tells us a story about sin, the Parable of the Lost Son, or the Prodigal Son.  If you are not familiar, a son asks for his share of the inheritance from his father and sets out to a distant country and lost all his money in “wild living” and as a result eventually becomes a lowly and starving farmhand feeding pigs (an animal considered most unclean) and soon even stoops to eat their chum.  In this moment, the son realizes that even his father’s servants were treated better and shamefully comes back home.  Though he humbles himself before the father in shame, his father responds differently, rejoicing in his return and throwing a banquet in honor of his return.  
We are all the prodigal, straying from the love of God in pursuit of easier and quick satisfaction.  We think we can do it on our own, but that simply is not the case.  Finally, in these moments, we fear that we have wondered too far, fallen too low, and grown too distant to God.  But God is the father in this story.  He lets us have freedom.  He loves us no matter what.  He rejoices in our return.  Frequently we live in shame of our sin, scared of turning to God, scared of admitting our weakness, scared of giving ourselves up to God’s will once more.  Once we finally do, everything changes as a result: God celebrates our return to him and we are receptive to his grace once more.  It doesn’t matter where you are or where you have been, what you do or have done, what is lost can always be found, God is constantly loving and hoping for our return.  We just have to run to his open arms.

The One With the New Testament Stories

by Hannah Alford

On Monday, Ruth showed up how it isn’t wise to seek power and strive to try to be better in order to serve God, because you will always be enough. But what does that mean exactly? We’ve learned from church that a “good” christian should give their mind, will, and body to service God, and while that is true many people avoid some areas while serving in others. One area we often fall short in is to “Love our neighbor as yourself,” the parable that I think off most closely is the Good Samaritan. In this story a priest, a levite, and a samaritan saw a man who was robbed, two passed him, and yet it was the third that bandaged and gave him money to stay in an inn. A man that in that time would have been considered cruel, was caring and saved the man’s life (Luke 10: 25-42). How you treat others can spread God’s love, you are enough, so now it’s time to show others that they’re enough too. Treat others the way you want to be treated, it’s something we’ve all heard since we were little kids, but try adding to that this week. Go above and beyond to serve the people around you whether that be helping a friend with homework or prayer for the people around you and see how that love you spread will come back to you!