Category Archives: Weekly Devotion

Where Are You Going?

Where Are You Going?
Jason Fevig – Senior Pastor – Harvest Miami, Florida

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those that enter it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
—Matthew 7:13-15

Hey, where’re you going? Yeah, you heard me, where’re you going? Do you even know? I talk to so many people every day who have no idea where they are headed. Some don’t even seem to care. Do you? If you are a Christian, you have a clear path to follow. It’s a pretty narrow path, but it’s there and it’s the path that leads to heaven. If you haven’t found it, I suggest you do that right now!

Right now, I’m talking to those who have found the narrow path . . . are you on it? Do you take it seriously? Or are you on the wide road? It’s pretty easy to tell which road you’re on. If you rarely make decisions that people around you think are strange or narrow-minded, you may be on the wide road. If there are a lot of people around you doing things you know are wrong, and you are with them, it’s the wide road. If you find yourself using substances that are illegal and thinking there’s nothing wrong with that, you are on the really wide road. Get off it today! Get on the narrow road that leads to righteousness and fulfillment.

Now I’d like to talk to those who don’t know anything about the narrow path. Perhaps you’re headed down a wide road that’s one way and going the wrong direction. You don’t know how you know it’s the wrong direction, you just know that it is. Well hear me: before you do anything else, you need to get on the right track. Maybe you don’t even know which road to be on or how to find it. Is that you?

So how do you find the narrow road anyway? Well, if you are holding a Bible right now, you’ve got the road in your hands. God’s Word tells us what He would have us do, how He wants us to live, and all the promises He makes about Himself and His way of living. All we have to do is confess our sin to God and receive the free gift of salvation. That’s it!
So, where are you? Don’t know? Go ahead and hit that blinker, make a U-turn. You need to get in line with God’s Word, which is His will AND recommit yourself to following hard after Jesus. So go ahead and do it today!

OneWay

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Fear

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” —Romans 8:12-15

This is helpful to me: “Fear is the opposite of all that Christianity is to be.” Romans 8:15 says, “You did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear” (nkjv). Paul told Timothy, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). Unless you fear God—that’s a completely different thing; the fear of God is a good thing—but unless you’re fearing God, anything else, any other kind of fear, has no place in the life of a believer.

What do we fear that as believers we need to stop fearing? Well in one word, we fear the future. No one’s afraid of the past. The past has other problems. And no one’s really afraid of the present. We can be upset about the present, but we don’t fear it because we know it. Fear involves the future—the unknown.

Now here are two main categories of what we fear about the future: we fear loss and we fear pain. First, we fear loss of people: “Will my husband always love me?” “Will this treasured friendship last?” “Will I lose my kids?” We also fear loss of possessions: “Yes, I’m fine today, but will I always have enough?” “Will I lose my house?” “Will the kids have enough money for college?” And we fear loss of position: “I’m in over my head.” and “People don’t believe in me,” and “I don’t know how much longer I’m going to have this job.”

Secondly, we fear pain. In fact, we very often cause ourselves a lot more pain than we would ever experience in our attempts to avoid pain. We fear physical pain as well as the emotional pain of rejection or failure: “How will I be hurt today?” “Will growing old be painful?” “When hardship comes, can I count on anyone?” These are all fears that can immobilize.
We’re paying a heavy price for fear. Every time God says, “Don’t,” He means, “Don’t hurt yourself.” So when God says, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine” (Isa 43:1b), we need to firmly declare that truth against any fear that comes against us.

Prayer

Almighty Father, I want to pray with David, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in You” (Psalm 56:3). I realize that fears will come. It’s what I do when they come that will make the difference. And I want to trust You in the face of fear. Remind me to exercise my freedom in You, to declare fears unacceptable in my life. In Jesus’ fear-dispelling name, Amen.

James MacDonald – Senior Pastor – Harvest Bible Chapel

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Captive no More

captive

10For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ. 12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. — Romans 6:10-14

Is there a certain sin that seems to have a foothold in your life? And does it almost seem as though the sin is getting more and more powerful each month, each year, and tragically, each decade?

 

Do you wonder if you ever will gain victory over it? Or worse, are you beginning to wonder if you are really a Christian? Sin is a horrible master, and it finds a willing servant in the human body. Sin wants to dominate you, but the good news is that as a Christian, you don’t have to be dominated by sin any longer.

 

There is a part of us that is drawn to the holy things of God, and there is a part of us that can still be drawn to the unholy things of this world. We all have that struggle. It is almost shocking, especially if you have been a believer for many years, that there still can be an attraction to sinful things.

 

Here is what we need to remember: we will never get to a point where we are temptation-proof. But I do think we can get to a point where sin will not be so alluring. It comes with growing deeply in our faith, learning more about Jesus, and being so enraptured with His love that we see this world for what it is.

 

To overcome sin, we need to know, we need to reckon, and we need to yield. Romans 6:11 says, “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (NKJV).

 

To know has to do with the mind, and it is implied in the phrase, “likewise you also.” These three words refer back to the truths in Romans 6:1–10.

 

To reckon focuses on the heart. The word “reckon” used in Romans 6:11 means “to take into account,” or “to count as true.”

 

To yield deals primarily with the will. Romans 6:13 tells us, “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.”

 

You have more than enough power to live this Christian life. You have the righteousness purchased by Christ with His own blood. So start taking hold of what God has already given you. Live in the newness of life, for which Jesus gave His own. — Greg Laurie

Visit Greg Laurie’s Site at Harvest.org

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Storms

Amazing StormsAnd he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. Matthew 8:26

We can avoid storms in our lives about as often as we can divert weather patterns over our city. Go stand outside and try. The reality is you will always face times of uncertainty. In the landscape of your life, you will enjoy a few blue-sky days, but mostly there will always be a dark cloud gathering somewhere on the horizon of your life, reminding you of the daily need to trust God with tomorrow. You can’t set your hope on the illusion that somehow you’re going to sort everything out one day. There will always be enough to keep you on your knees. And just about the time you think, I don’t really need to pray that much this weekwham. Face it; on this side of eternity, there will never be a day when you won’t need to trust the God who loves you.

My future and yours will be ravaged by the waves until we embrace the fact that God allows these storms for our good. He won’t let us drown. Can you imagine how it would have wrecked the Gospels if it went down like this: There was this storm and Jesus was asleep and four of the disciples drowned? Of course not! He would not let them–nor will He let you–drown.

But back in the moment, the disciples were wild with fear. Even the professional fishermen knew things were out of control. In the original language the disciples said just this: “Lord, save!”

Notice Jesus’ response to them: “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 8:26). Bible scholars debate whether or not that was a rebuke. Matthew was clearly fond of reporting how many times Jesus said it: First, here in Matthew 8:26, when they feared the storm; then in Matthew 14:31, when Peter took his eyes off the Lord and began to sink; again in Matthew 16:8, when they forgot about the miracle of multiplying bread; and again in Matthew 17:20, when they failed to heal the demon possessed boy. “O you of little faith!”—Jesus said it to them a lot.

In my mind’s eye, I see Him smiling when He says it here in the storm. I think it’s tender, like He’s saying, “You don’t get it yet, do you?” He’s not mad at them, but sad that they didn’t think He could take care of them.

Makes you wonder how often He says “O you of little faith!” to us.

Dr. James MacDonald

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Choosing Authenticity

boots1Judge not, that you be not judged. 2For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when there is the log in your own eye? —matthew 7:1-4

All in favor of authenticity? Here is the first step in practicing authenticity.
First by not judging others. Notice that it says in Matthew 7:1, “Judge not that you be not judged.” Now, I’ve got to tell you, people are always like slapping that on everything, “Oh, you can’t judge, don’t judge.”
That’s not what the verse means. Jesus wasn’t categorically dismissing all things requiring judgment. Look at Matthew 7:6 where He talks about precious teachings and the decision not to share with people who don’t want to listen. Doesn’t that require a judgment?

You can judge actions—behavior (see 1 Corinthians 5). Parents, don’t ever let your kids back you away from judging actions by saying, “Don’t judge.” We have to judge actions. Call a lie a lie, disrespect disrespect, and disobedience disobedience! The gift of discernment is a spiritual gift.
Here’s what Jesus is talking about; what we don’t judge:

We don’t judge motives. You don’t know why people are doing what they’re doing. Don’t ever let yourself say, “I know why she’s like that.” “I know why he’s doing that.” No, you do not. Only God knows a person’s heart. He doesn’t want us judging the territory that is His venue. The judging of the heart, that is God’s job.
We don’t judge appearance. Don’t judge a person by the color of their skin or the clothes that they wear, or the car that they drive or the place that they live or the job that they have. Don’t judge people by what they look like. You can’t tell a book by its cover. You can’t! And God hates that.
We don’t judge harshly. Don’t hold people to a standard that you’re not keeping.

Notice in Matthew 7:2, “For with the judgment you pronounce, you will be judged.” Yikes! So, the judgment that I give to others, that’s the judgment that I’m going to get. If you’re constantly judging, God’s like, “You’re writing the script I’m going to use to judge you!” Not great!
If you want to get serious about authenticity as a person, harshly judging other’s motives and appearance has to stop.

Journal:

Which one (or more) of these three steps is God calling on me to give special attention to in the days to come? What do I specifically need to stop doing?

Prayer:
I know You didn’t go to the effort of creating me to be someone fake. You have always had an authentic version of me in mind—that’s who I want to be too, Lord! Point out judgmental ways in me and lead me toward authentic living in Your presence. Let me begin be evaluating others as I long to be seen myself. In Your name I ask, Jesus, Amen.

Dr. James MacDonald ~ Walk in the Word

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What Is Forgiveness?

forgiveness1“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” – Colossians 3:12-14

Forgiveness is a decision. It’s an act of will to release a person from the obligation that resulted when they injured you.

Unforgiveness sounds like this: “You owe me! I’m going to make you pay by hating you, by slandering you, by returning in kind, by recruiting other people to my bitterness. I’m holding this over you!”

Here’s forgiveness: “You don’t owe me. I’m not trying to get even. I’m not looking for a chance to pay you back. God didn’t make me that way. I choose to forgive.”

You say, “James, I can forgive today, but I know by Thursday I’ll have that thing back on my back again.” I understand that. Get this: forgiveness is a crisis and a process. The first thing you have to do is see your unforgiveness as sin. You have to acknowledge that God’s not going to forgive you if you don’t forgive others. You’ve got to have that crisis. You’ve got to stop explaining, defending, holding onto it, cherishing, and reviewing it. You’ve got to say, “I don’t want this for my life.”

The crisis means, “I choose to forgive. I’m letting it go.” But the process means, when the painful matter comes into your mind again, you promise yourself to maintain the following process: “I won’t bring it up to the person; I won’t bring it up to other people;” and most hard by far, “I won’t bring it up to myself anymore.”

Someone said to me, “James, I can’t help myself. As soon as I see the person, Bam! My mind goes right to that thing.” That’s why forgiveness is a crisis and a process. In the crisis you decide, in the process you live it out.

Now, here’s a key: When you fail in the process you have to return to the crisis. When you find yourself flashing back to unforgiveness, realize you failed in the process. You’ve got to return to the crisis. You’ve got to get before the Lord and say, “God, forgive me. I want to be a forgiving person and here I’m holding this again, Lord. Help me again. I commit afresh to let it go.”

Crisis/process. Over time you’ll let it go and you’ll be a lot happier because of it.

 

Pastor James MacDonald ~ Walk in the Word

 

 

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Daily Devotion ~ Charles Spurgeon

CharlesSpurgeon2

The fatherhood of God is common to all his children. Ah! Little-faith, you have often said, “Oh that I had the courage of Great-heart, that I could wield his sword and be as valiant as he! But, alas, I stumble at every straw, and a shadow makes me afraid.” List thee, Little-faith. Great-heart is God’s child, and you are God’s child too; and Great-heart is not one whit more God’s child than you are. Peter and Paul, the highly- favoured apostles, were of the family of the Most High; and so are you also; the weak Christian is as much a child of God as the strong one.

“This cov’nant stands secure,
Though earth’s old pillars bow;
The strong, the feeble, and the weak,
Are one in Jesus now.”

All the names are in the same family register. One may have more grace than another, but God our heavenly Father has the same tender heart towards all. One may do more mighty works, and may bring more glory to his Father, but he whose name is the least in the kingdom of heaven is as much the child of God as he who stands among the King’s mighty men. Let this cheer and comfort us, when we draw near to God and say, “Our Father.”

Yet, while we are comforted by knowing this, let us not rest contented with weak faith, but ask, like the Apostles, to have it increased. However feeble our faith may be, if it be real faith in Christ, we shall reach heaven at last, but we shall not honour our Master much on our pilgrimage, neither shall we abound in joy and peace. If then you would live to Christ’s glory, and be happy in His service, seek to be filled with the spirit of adoption more and more completely, till perfect love shall cast out fear.

Charles Spurgeon

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What is Prayer?

prayerhandsAn excerpt from
A Time for Prayer
by Lance Wubbels
What is prayer?

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened (Matthew 7:7-8).

For anyone who has put his or her faith in Jesus Christ, prayer is “communion with God.” Through the cross of Jesus, the barriers to a relationship with God our Father were removed. When we begin to trust God and turn from our sin, He comes into our lives to begin a new relationship of love with us (Romans 8:9-10; John 14:23; Revelation 3:20; 2 Corinthians 13:5). Through prayer we actually experience a relationship with God, and the quality of our prayer life correspondingly determines the quality of our relationship with God.

Prayer is talking with God.

Prayer is listening to God.

Prayer is enjoying the presence of God.

Prayer is not simply saying words or repeating religious formulas. Jesus warned His disciples not to make meaningless repetitions of words when we pray (Matthew 6:7). There is a lot of what gives the appearance of prayer that never reaches God. For example, “The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself” (Luke 18:11). Perhaps the reason was that “If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable” (Proverbs 28:9).

God is looking for heartfelt relationship. Our faith and love toward God will lead us to recognize His presence with us, to talk with Him, to listen to Him, to sense Him. This is prayer. We express our thanks, our faith, our love, our hopes with God in prayer, and we receive from Him answers, assurance, guidance, peace, strength, power, revelation of who He is and what He wants to do (Matthew 7:7-8; John 16:13; Philippians 4:6-7; Ephesians 1:17-18).

The late E. Stanley Jones, missionary and preacher, wrote:

“Prayer…is the opening of a channel from my emptiness into His fullness.”

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Ten Ways to Encourage a Brother or Sister in Christ

encourage
First Thessalonians 5:1–11 tells us that Christ died for us so that we can live together with Him. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up . . .”

It is crucial that we encourage our brothers and sisters in our small groups, where we “live together with Him.” Here are some specific ways to do so:

1. Write an encouraging letter (Paul to Timothy).
2. Share how God has dealt with you in your life—your personal testimony of overcoming and growth (Paul’s testimony in Acts 22).
3. Offer your supportive presence, even when you do not understand (the women at the cross).
4. Affirm another person’s worth by doing kindness when he hurts (Jesus in Matthew 25—feed the hungry, visit the prisoners, clothe the naked).
5. Absorb another person’s problems into yourself (pay his debts—Paul with Onesimus; the Good Samaritan).
6. Rejoice with another in his successes (Acts 5:41).
7. Jump in and help someone else actually complete a job (John and Peter with Philip in Samaria).
8. Stand up for a brother or sister, defending that person when others disparage him or her (Barnabas for Paul).
9. Pray (Paul for the Romans).
10. Review with a brother or sister the record of God’s involvement in our past and present so he or she can get the future into perspective (Paul to the Philippians, and on the shipwreck).

Courtesy of the Navigators

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Jesus’ Selflessness

TheCross

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” – Philippians 2:5-8

This passage is so rich; we only have space to examine one jewel. It’s the phrase, He “made himself nothing” (v.7a). Notice, Jesus “made Himself.” He didn’t get a memo. He wasn’t pushed out of heaven. He was fully engaged in God’s whole plan!

That phrase there, “made himself nothing,” is actually the basis for a lot of false teaching. Some translations rightly put it, “He emptied Himself.” Then the question becomes, emptied Himself of what? Some falsely suggest that Jesus emptied Himself of Deity and that He literally became a first-century Jewish man; that there was no God, just Jesus, the man. But the Bible teaches the Incarnation of Jesus, 100 percent God; 100 percent man, undiminished Deity dwelling in humanity.

You ask, “Well, what did He empty Himself of then?”

Answer, at least five things:

  • He emptied Himself of glory. In John 17:5, Jesus prayed, “Glorify me…with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” He gave up the adoration of the saints and angels when He came into this world.
  • He emptied Himself of independent authority. In John 5:30, Jesus said, “I can do nothing on My own.” He brought Himself into a different relationship with the Father, where ALL of His activities and actions had to be cleared in that unusual way. Though equal with the Father, now uniquely submissive to Him.
  • He released the voluntary exercise of His divine attributes. Compare John 1:43–51 with Matthew 24:36 to see how Jesus sometimes was omniscient and sometimes not.
  • He gave up eternal riches. I just want you to try to imagine for a moment the treatment that the Son of God, the King of the universe, gets in heaven. Yet 2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “…though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
  • He gave up His intimate relationship with the Father. Who can describe the fellowship that exists between the first and second Person of the Trinity? And to hear Jesus on the cross in Matthew 27:46 shouting, “My God, why have You forsaken Me?” He made Himself nothing—for you and me.

James MacDonald

Dr. James MacDonald ~ Pastor

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