I read somewhere recently that one of the biggest issues for pastors is whether they are relevant at all and most wonder whether they are making any difference or not. I must confess that I often wonder that myself. This is also one of the biggest reasons thousands of pastors leave the ministry every year and thousands of others suffer burnout. It is quite disheartening for many pastors to work to preach, teach, and administer the sacraments and to see the church in decline as it is. We try as hard as we can to make it relevant and to use new and exciting ways to present God's Word to people, but it often seems to fall on deaf ears and blind eyes.
This is not the case in places like Africa and China. There the church is flourishing and growing at record rates. Why? Because they know what it is to live without the church due to the oppression and tyranny of godless governments. They know what it means to have to hide their faith and their churches for fear of punishment. They know what it means to not have churches to go to for a very long time. And it's not good.
They don't take their faith for granted. They love the church. They rejoice that they have a place to worship and a large group of people to worship with. it is a great blessing to them to be able to worship freely and fully
I know I'm probably preaching to the choir here. You aren't one of those apathetic Christians, are you? It matters to you, doesn't it? If you are, being faithful by the power of the Holy Spirit, WONDERFUL! Keep it up! Keep living in God's grace! Keep growing in the faith! I'm proud of you!
Maybe you are an apathetic Christian. Maybe you are completely disinterested in what goes on at St. John's. If you are, then I pray that this passage from Hebrews and this devotion has convicted you of your apathy and disinterest. I hope that it has caused you to rethink your faith life so that you don't stray too far away from Christ that you get lost and can't find your way back.
If you are a lukewarm, apathetic, and indifferent Christian REPENT! Jesus wants a better relationship with you than just a casual thought now and then. He wants you to have a full and satisfying relationship with him, one that is firing on all cylinders, one that is full of joy, one that is proclaiming his love to the lost, one that is free of guilt and shame! Turn from your "sometime" Christianity, or your "when I have time" Christianity, and make it your life!
It is very interesting in this passage that the writer of Hebrews doesn't dwell on the trouble already happening way back then, but instead speaks about the Gospel! He preaches Christ and Him crucified. And so, whether the tide is in or out, whether church is full or almost empty, whether people are on fire or barely smoldering, we keep preaching Christ! We keep proclaiming his grace! We keep Jesus as our way, truth, and life!
Prayer: Lord, help me to treat my faith as my whole life and not just a part of it. Amen.
YESTERDAY'S QUIZ: What is a maskil? A literary or musical device meant to teach a lesson
DEVOTION: Genesis 2:18-25 (ESV)
18 Then the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,
"This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man."
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Why did God give you your spouse? Why did God give us marriage at all? Wouldn't life be easier if there were no such things as spouses, marriage, and commitment?
First of all God said that it was not "good" for man to be alone. He didn't say that about anything else. He knew that his creation was incomplete without a companion. He knew that humans wouldn't know his love completely unless they had someone to love.
He also knew that humans would sin against each other just like Adam and Eve sinned against him so he gave them to each other so that they could know both sides of forgiveness. He knew that, if they only received forgiveness, they would not fully grasp what it is like to give forgiveness.
Thirdly, he knew that they wouldn't fully understand the commitment he had to them unless they committed to each other. He is committed to us through eternity an he wanted us to know what that means.
Lastly, he wanted them to know what it feels like to give love to someone else. If we only receive love, we don't fully grasp the intensity and completeness of both sides of it. It is the same reason he allows parents to have children instead of just creating each person directly out of the ground out of seeds or something.
He has given you relationships so that you can both receive and give his love in a real earthly, physical, and emotional way. What a great giver God is! What a great gift our relationships are. Live in your relationships the way God intended them to be. Love, give, and forgive so that you and your spouse, child, brother, sister, mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, coworkers, and friends may all know the love of Christ more fully today.
Prayer: Lord God, thank you for our relationships! Help us to treat them as you intended. Amen.
YESTERDAY'S QUIZ: In what year of the reign of King Darius did Zechariah prophesy? The fourth
There is no special theme or food for tonight, so just bring your favorite dish!
See you at 6!!
3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
who fears the Lord.
5 The Lord bless you from Zion!
May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life!
6 May you see your children's children!
Peace be upon Israel
I have always had a healthy fear of my dad, still do even today. I never wanted to make him mad. I knew that making him mad would incur his wrath upon me. That wrath made way its out in yelling, in an ear pulling, time in the corner, and even a spanking.
What was even worse and would still be worse today is disappointing him. I never want to disappoint him, because I value his honor of me and I want him to be proud of me. I don't want to do something that would remove that honor and pride that he ahs for me.
I know he will keep loving me no matter what. I know he will always have my back. So I'm not afraid of losing his love. He always has and always will forgive me. I know this without a doubt!
This is what makes me want to do things and live a life that will make him proud.
That is the same "fear" that we should have for Almighty God. When we do, then the things above are bound to happen. THIS IS ESPECIALLY TRUE When we as fathers are good examples to our wives and children.
THE CHURCH NEEDS AND HAS ALWAYS NEEDED MEN: fathers, husbands, workers, leaders, who FEAR THE LORD!!
We know that our heavenly Father will never stop loving us. He will love us no matter what. And when he sees us, he doesn't see our failures or are shortcomings. He sees Jesus. THANKS BE TO GOD!
This fact is what makes us want to honor, serve, and obey our heavenly Father! Do that Today! Praise and thank the Lord for those who fear the Lord in your life, and follow their example!
Prayer: Lord, help me to have a holy fear of you so that I may be blessed as you have promised. Amen.
YESTERDAY'S QUIZ: What was Daniel's last vision about?
Daniel 12 There will be a time of great distress, like no other. Everyone whose name is found in the book will
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