Breakthrough Devotional: Day 21

Scripture:

If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.  2 Corinthians 5:13-15

Devotional:

Last week, my son came down with the stomach bug at 3 in the morning.  After multiple episodes, changing his sheets, clothes and cleaning him up, I found myself lying in his bed attempting to help him go to sleep.  I was in a bed too small, lying on the side of the bed that still had residue from one of the episodes (we ran out of sheets) and my son was kicking me thinking he was playing a game. Did I mention it was 3am?

As I was laying there, I began to think that all I was experiencing, mainly the lack of sleep, was well worth it to show my son how much I love him.  I love him enough to do the unthinkable.  I love him enough to do the undesirable.  I love him enough to do the uncomfortable.

It’s easy, however, to do what I did for my son. The question is, “Am I willing to do whatever is needed to show others that I love them?” Will I share my faith with those who don’t know Christ? Will I give up my time, money, and other resources to help those in need because of love? Will I do that which makes me uncomfortable to show love to those God places in my life?

I hope that I am never woken up by the cries of my son again.  I hope I am never cleaning up the stomach bug at 4am.  I hope I never have to sleep in my son’s bed again.  But, if it does happen again…I will do it all over again, because… Love Compels.             – Ernest Smith, Mount Pleasant Campus

Soul Tattoo:

Love compels us to do the unthinkable, the undesirable, the uncomfortable!

Action Steps:

  1. Show love to someone today that may be out of the norm for you?
  2. Read 1 John 4:7-21

Breakthrough Devotional: Day 20

Scripture: 

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

Devotional:

Having compassion is an integral part of being a Christian.  A follower of Jesus that lacks time to be compassionate towards others is like a fireman that hasn’t the time to put out fires.  In Matthew 25:34-46, Jesus further defines compassion as more than a feeling.  One must not “feel sorry” for a family that is hungry.  A Christian must act on meeting the needs of people around them.  As Jesus’ disciples, we are commanded to have our eyes set on the things of the eternal, (Colossians 3:2) this resulting in a selfless approach to life.  In the scope of eternity, one realizes that his life on earth is too short to be self-centered.

Jesus’ whole purpose for coming to earth stemmed from his compassion for humanity, wanting all men and women to have a restored relationship with God and the opportunity to live in His presence forever.   When you take a close look at how Jesus lived His life on earth, he also touched people that no one else would dare touch, healed outcasts that no one paid attention to, and ate dinner with the scum of the earth.  Jesus didn’t even send a hungry crowd home without being properly fed (if you consider raw fish and bread proper).  Our savior and leader manifested compassion perfectly.  As His followers, we have no choice but to do the same.  “Clothe yourselves with compassion.”  This means nothing less than a lifestyle of caring for others.       – Joey Svendsen, James Island Campus

Soul tattoo:

Ask God to reveal potential obstacles in your lifestyle or perhaps some sin in your heart that prevents you from living a compassionate life towards others.

Action Steps:

1. Reflect on Philippians 4:13 and through prayer, commit to being more compassionate.

2. Brainstorm a list of ways in which you can show compassion to others.  You may be surprised of the opportunities you’ve been overlooking right under your nose.

3. Evaluate adjustments that may be needed in your life, in order to be more compassionate.  This may include adjustments in your budget, leisure time, and regular commitments.

4. Be compassionate.

Breakthrough Devotional: Day 19

Scripture:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:  Who being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness and being found in appearance as a man he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!  Philippians 2:3-8

Devotional:

Several years ago I sat down with a couple to begin premarital counseling.  They were sharing with me the story of how they met and fell in love, and at the end of the story, I asked what I thought would be an innocent question, “So, why are you getting married?”   Without skipping a beat the groom-to-be answered with a big grin on his face and said, “I’m marring her because she makes me happy.” And as the bride blushed while nodding in agreement, I repeated my question, “So, why are you getting married?”

The couple looked at me quite confused and almost offended. “What do you mean?” The bride asked.

“I just mean that if happiness is what you seek, it might be easier to get a puppy or a new car. With the divorce rate hovering around 60%, it sure seems like a lot of people aren’t finding the happiness they seek in marriage. If you’re happy now, is getting married worth the risk of losing that happiness?”

The couple sat silent, as I’m sure they weren’t expecting a pastor to be so skeptical of marriage. But my intent wasn’t to question their upcoming marriage or the institution of marriage itself, but to make a point that often times when we make our own happiness our primary goal, happiness is very hard to find.  Counting on other people to meet our own need for happiness always leads to disappointment and is ultimately selfish.

I have found the same thing in my own marriage.  When I seek my own happiness, I usually end up unhappy.  But when I make loving my wife my aim, when I put her needs and happiness first, my own happiness is a byproduct.  It’s hard to wrap your mind around, but true joy isn’t found through selfishness, but it is found through selflessness, by putting others first.  Happiness that seeks our own pleasure ahead of other people will last only for a time. But the happiness that comes from seeking to love someone else first, will last a lifetime.    - Alex Johnson, Asheville Campus

Soul Tattoo:

True happiness is a byproduct of selflessness.

Action Steps:

  1. Pick someone in your life today and try to make them happy.  Could be a spouse, co-worker, family member.
  2. Meditate on Philippians 2:3-8.

Breakthrough Devotional: Day 18

Scripture:

And now, O LORD, for what do I wait? My hope is in You. Psalm 39:7

Devotional

Like the difference between stones on a dirt road and nuggets on a golden one, our Hope is vastly a more spectacular matter than mere wishing. Ours is hope with expectancy, founded in belief, in Christian faith, and in one True Treasure. Much more than limited human whimsy, ours is hope that is established, promised and secured—hope in an unlimited God—hope that we are certain to see fulfilled.

In Christ, by whom we have the “propitiation [forgiveness] for our sins,” we make our way past the hopelessness of the flesh to the hope we have through him. By God’s generous gift, mercy, divine grace, and sacrifice, Jesus became our Hope, and our bridge to a heavenly home. We who love the LORD are provided and coincided with the certainty that God is working out His perfect plan in and through us, that He is working it all together for our good, and that we are assured of a present comfort, a future and a place in eternity with Him. – Yogi Blackmon, Internet Campus

Soul Tattoo:

I joyfully hope the invisible; I confidently hope the unseen! I affirm the Spirit of God over me and within me, and I lift up my spirit to God’s love, wisdom, guidance, and grace. I receive the truth of His promises and of my eternal hope in Him, and I ask Him to make my life a testimony.

Action Steps

1. Research and study what the Bible says about HOPE. Read Jeremiah 29:11, Hebrews 11:1, Psalm 62:5, Psalm 143:8, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, John 16:33

2. Meditate on the verses that jump out at you, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you build spiritual strength, faith, confidence, and relationship.

3. Pray and speak the Word over yourself and over others.

Breakthrough Devotional: Day 17

Scripture:

One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”  The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” Luke 10:25-28 NLT

Devotional:

Several times in this passage the word ALL is mentioned. That is a big word. To give God all of something means we cannot have one ounce of selfish desires.  This applies to loving your neighbor as well.  Selfish desire is what caused Satan to be cast out of Heaven, Adam and Eve to eat the fruit, and pretty much all of our fights with those around us. I want my way! If God loves me then He would answer my prayers, the way I want. To be more like Christ and to be His shining example, we have to really get our heads around the idea of sacrifice.  We must understand the concept of dying unto ourselves (Luke9:23-25).  Putting others first.  Putting our spouse’s needs before our own. Letting the car cut in front of us and giving them room to come over.  I am not talking about being a pushover, where people can do whatever they like and you say ok. I am talking about loving God so much that you realize He can give you all that you need and more. Yes, He loves you and will bless you. We will however, have to sacrifice our earthly wants and desires, and focus on what He wants for us.  Over time and persistent striving for what He wants and what pleases Him, or desires for what we want change. When we can get to the point where He is really all we need then He gives us more than we can ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20-21) When we get that relationship fully correct, then it is easier to love our neighbors and understand whose will comes first.           –Seth Farrior, Internet Campus

Soul tattoo: 

To truly love God or someone else, you have to get rid of ALL selfish desires. That is sacrifice.

Action Steps:

1. Ask God to search your heart and soul right now, for any area (career, family, finances, or relationships) that you have selfish desires.

2. Write them down.  Pray over each one.  Tell Him you are willing to sacrifice these desires for a better relationship with Him.

3. If you are married or have kids, do this as well. Pray and ask God “Where am I putting my own selfish needs in front of my spouse or kids?”

Breakthrough Devotional: Day 16

Scripture: 

“Have I not commanded to you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Devotional: 

When I was growing up, my parents introduced me to the world of sports by signing me up to play in the community league. From Kindergarten through 6th grade it was baseball in the Spring and Summer, basketball in the Fall and Winter. Basketball was my favorite. Some of the drilling we went through was intense, but for a couple of seasons, we went undefeated. As I got older, it became apparent that I was not built for a career in sports, but one thing I learned from those early years in athletics was the importance & value of submitting my personal concerns to those of the team.  In regards to intercessory prayer, persistence can mean that my team (myself & the ones I pray for) will ultimately benefit if I put in the extra time & training as a prayer player.

I think sometimes “strong & courageous” in Joshua 1:9, can prompt us to think only of huge obstacles.  In a Hollywood-framed culture, it’s easy to picture being “strong & courageous” as going into battle with a William Wallace or overcoming a physical impediment like Forrest Gump. As a believer, it’s easy to understand “strong and courageous” as enduring extreme obstacles such as spiritual war fare, the desire to give in to unhealthy behavior, or engage in difficult conversation.  I am realizing that sometimes being strong and courageous is overcoming much simpler things like insecurity and impatience.

Do not be afraid to pray for someone you don’t know.  Do not be afraid to be that witness and pray out loud for someone else. Pray with courage and be strong against the desire to give-up. Be persistent and have faith that God hears you knocking.  Someone on your team is depending on you and your diligence.  Even as Jesus hung on the cross, he prayed on behalf of others. “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:24 NLT) – Aaron LaFalce, Asheville Campus

Soul Tattoo: 

Be a prayer player.

Action Steps:

1. Read and meditate on 1 Timothy 2:1-2 , Matthew 5:44.

2. Ask God to lay someone on your heart to pray for.

3. Pray for that person.

Breakthrough Devotional: Day 15

Scripture:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”  Matthew 7:7-8

Isaac pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was unable to have children. Genesis 25:21a

Devotional:

I’m wrapping up our Breakthrough series today but this devotional will continue for the rest of this week, so make sure you don’t miss the rest of the entries! This weekend I talked about “knocking” in prayer. What does that look like? When we pray for others, what sorts of prayers are we praying? A good part of my message this weekend was spent looking at Isaac and Rebekah. I was so struck by the above passage from Genesis – Isaac pleaded with God on behalf of his wife. That is such a powerful image, not only of faith, but also of a husband’s love for his wife. Her pain was his pain and it was because he cared for her that he went to God in prayer on her behalf.

Are you doing that for anyone? Is there an individual in your life that you feel moved to pray for? It might be a spouse but it doesn’t have to be. It can be a relative, a friend, even a coworker. Sometimes the Holy Spirit moves in our hearts and we feel compelled to pray. That’s what was happening in Isaac’s heart and I believe that God wants us to be praying those kinds of prayers for the people around us. During this last week of our devotional, I want you to ask God who he wants you to be praying for. I believe that God wants to use our prayers to change not just our own lives, but the lives of everyone around us.

I love being your pastor,

Greg

Soul tattoo:

Praying to God on behalf of other people has incredible power

Action Steps:

  1. Ask God who he wants you to pray for
  2. Commit to pray for that person or persons over the next week, or until God prompts you to stop
  3. Repeat these two steps regularly – keep on praying for the people around you!

Breakthrough Devotional: Day 14

Scripture:

They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against the Lord. For what are we, that you grumble against us?” And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the Lord has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.”

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.’” And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. And the Lord said to Moses, “I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”

In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. Exodus 16:1-12

Devotional:

Have you ever gone a day in your life where God didn’t provide what you needed to survive? If you’re reading this, the answer is no. God knows exactly what we need to get through each day. He knows what we need physically, relationally, spiritually, and emotionally. The all-powerful King of the universe is our Father. He cares for us and loves us more than we can understand, and every resource in heaven and on earth is at His disposal. I’m thankful that my provider has no problems giving me what I need!

At the same time, I sometimes struggle with seeing God as my provider because I don’t have all the things I think I need. When I have to spend $1000 to fix a problem on my car, I think I need a better car that doesn’t break down all the time. When I have to say no to appetizers and dessert when I go on a date, I think I need just a little more cash in my bank account.

But here’s the thing about God. He gives us more than not enough and less than too much. He gives us just the right amount to make sure we trust in Him for the things we need. God could have given the Israelites enough food for a week at a time, but He didn’t. He didn’t want them trusting in what they had, but rather in what He was going to provide.

If you had to rate your level of trust in God to provide all the things you need, how would you score? Do you place your trust in the things you have stored up? Do you grumble because you think you don’t have enough? The One who knows what’s best guarantees to provide exactly what we need. Do you trust Him to remain faithful to that promise?         – Wes Stichweh, Mount Pleasant Campus

Soul Tattoo:

God does not want us to trust in what we have, but rather, in what He’s going to provide.

Action Steps:

1. Read Matthew 6:25-34

2. Journal about all the ways God has provided for you.

Breakthrough Devotional: Day 13

Scripture:

I pray that you will be grateful to God for letting you have a part in what He has promised His people in the kingdom of light.  God rescued us from the dark power of Satan and brought us into the kingdom of His dear Son, who forgives our sins and sets us free.  Christ is exactly like God, who cannot be seen.  He is the first-born Son, superior to all creation.  Everything was created by Him, everything in heaven and on earth, everything seen and unseen, including all forces and powers, and all rulers and authorities.  All things were created by God’s Son, and everything was made for him. Colossians 1:12-16

Devotional:

Who could know us or love us more, inside and out, good and bad, better than the One who created us?  The One who loved us so much that He sent His Son as the final sacrifice to cleanse us of our sin.   He has gone to great lengths to become closer to us and help us understand the depths of His love for us; the children He created.

The closer we bind ourselves to God, our Father and our Creator, the closer we are to being free.  While it may seem strange to think of being bound and free at the same time, that is what God wants in His relationship with us.  He is the creator of all things.  His desire is that we bind our hearts and lives to His in a way that will allow Him to work within us to make us all He created us to be.

He is our heavenly Father.  We can crawl up in to His lap and seek comfort.  We can talk with Him when no one else will listen or understand.  He laughs at all of our jokes, rejoices in our success and comforts us in our defeat.  He knows you as only He can.  He loves you as only your heavenly Father could.    – Susan Jordan, Irmo Campus

Soul Tattoo:

Don’t let yourself stand between you and an intimate relationship with God.  Your Creator.  Your Father.

Action Steps:

1. Read Colossians 1

2. What do these verses say about God as the Creator?

3. What is Paul saying here about what God wants for that which He created?

Breakthrough Devotional: Day 12

Scripture: 

“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:15-17, 26-27

How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”  Isaiah 30:19, 21

 Devotional: 

We would never ask a plumber for advice on how to “unclog” our sinuses. We would never ask a drill sergeant for counsel on how to write a romantic poem or lyric. Many times we are in need of a counselor for our hearts and souls, and we seek the wrong advisor. A counselor is, “A person who gives advice on a specified subject.” God is the author of every subject under the sun. He is the creator of our minds, heart and spirits. There is no better Counselor. When we humble ourselves enough to admit we need a counselor who can advise us, and we seek Jesus with all of our heart, we will find Him. In Him we will find truth and comfort. We will find healing and hope. Our Counselor, the Holy Spirit, reveals the heart of Christ to us. He teaches us, guides us and points out which direction we should take. The motivation behind every word of the Holy Spirit is love. Trust that God loves you. He is for you. And He wants to be your Counselor. Seek him.                               – Lauren Crittenden, Mount Pleasant Campus

 Soul Tattoo: 

There is no better Counselor than the Holy Spirit. He speaks truth motivated by love. Seek him.

 Action Steps:

1. Practice knowing God as your Counselor by seeking him for advice on small things, not just big things. When you have asked for His counsel, pause, and listen.
2. Read John 14