Committed 5

Faith isn’t easy – I wish I could say that it is.  Belief in God, commitment to following the ways of Christ is not simple.  It is challenging and brings with it some disputes that will likely arise between you and others.

Jesus was well aware of what problems true faith might bring.  What shocking declarations does Jesus make?  What is the conclusion in verse 38?

Such comments from Jesus himself can cause some discomfort and even discouragement in believers.  Jesus – the one who says to come to him when we are heavy-laden – has now said that his teachings are not going to bring about peace.  He has introduced a sword – conflict – to the lives of those who will be committed to him.  He even goes into detail claiming that members within a family will be at odds with one another, and that we should not love our parents as much as we love Jesus.

Although disturbing, there is naturally quite a bit of truth in all this.  And I also believe it may not be quite as literal as we may at first take it.

Should we love Jesus over everyone else, even our parents?  Of course.  We should love God over all things.  But that doesn’t mean we don’t love our parents or others in our family.

Jesus did bring peace to the world, in spite of what he says in verse 34.  We have peace in knowing that God loves us so much that Jesus was willing to die for us.  But our faith can also be a source of dispute.

If we will be truly committed to the Lord and our faith it will mean that we must put God and the good of His kingdom over everything and everyone else.  This may cause some clashes between you and loved ones.  Others may want you to have less faith and pay more attention to what is going on with them.  Some may criticize your faith and want you to be more like everyone else in the world.

We must be prepared for the occasional dispute and disconnect with loved ones.  If we will be completely committed to the Lord – which we are called to do – then there will likely be those times of conflict.  But this doesn’t mean we don’t love our family and friends.  It just means we love God more.

We must take up our cross and follow Jesus.  We must take up our faith in who Jesus was and still is.  We must take up our faith in the love of God and move forward in complete commitment to God in all we do.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  How will you take up your cross?

This concludes the 10/2 Grow daily devotions for this spring.  We pray that all will have a safe and happy summer. – Roger and Peggy

Committed 4

An object at rest tends to stay at rest.  Someone in our church commented about people who simply stop attending church or avoid getting involved in church activities, that it may not be a conscious choice to step away, but rather is the tendency to do less and less because it is easier.

As graduates face a new phase of their lives, we all are faced with choices.  We can continue as we have been.  We can re-energize ourselves and try out new approaches and deeper faith.  Or we can fall into a sort of apathy and do less and less.

As each of us crosses the threshold of a new day we are faced with choices in our lives.  Some may choose to do those things that are of no benefit to themselves or others.  And they may claim that they have fallen to temptation.  They were drawn away from what is good and helpful.

But Paul makes an observation about temptation in his letter to the Corinthian church.  What does he say about temptation?  What does he say about God?

We all face temptations of one kind or another.  This is nothing new.  Everyone is tempted, and I believe the root of temptation and sin is selfishness.  That is what is common to man.  We all have a tendency to want to do whatever satisfies and pleases us.

But there is always a way out of any temptation.  God will not allow the temptation to be so strong that you cannot resist it.  How is this possible?  God is with you in all things and God is more powerful than all things.  Therefore, if God is with you and you rely on God you will have the strength to resist anything.

Although you may be starting a new stage in your life it is important for you to bring part of your old life with you.  As you encounter new ideas, as you explore your place in life and in the world bring with you the teachings you have received in the past.

As you face each new temptation, every lure that might draw you away from the faith and into a life of doing the wrong things, harmful things, bring with you the knowledge and conviction that you are loved by God and He is with you in all things.  Take with you the commitment of being in a relationship with the Lord.  He is with you to help you escape the temptations and lures of incorrect living.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  What temptations are you facing now?  How can you overcome the temptations that you are facing?

Committed 3

About mid-way through my college education I moved out of my parents’ home and shared an apartment with two other guys.  We were young and rebellious and seeking our way in life.  One comment that sticks with me is something my roommate often asked – “Will people say we lived together for two years and came out with our heads together?”

At the time we were convinced that all of our conversations and ever-changing convictions would result in enlightenment.  We would emerge from this uncertain time as people who had a very clear picture of the meaning of life.

But ultimately I discovered that we were wandering around in the darkness of ignorance and selfishness and human gratification.  I did not come out of the experience with my “head together,” but was more confused than ever.

As I grew older and more experienced I returned to the foundation of my faith.  I returned to the things I had been taught in church.  And it was through examination and prayer and study that I found a strong connection to God which is now unshakable.  I have my “head together” now because of my strong faith in God.

Today’s passage is part of one of the letters intended to offer guidance to the young believer, Timothy.  What caution is offered?  What positive assurance is given?

We do not need to be young and inexperienced to be pulled away from our faith.  The world offers temptations and lures to young and old.  There are a wide variety of ways to look at the world and life, different views on who God is and whether or not He even exists.  Others provide suggestions on what is suitable for eating based on religious beliefs.

But what Timothy is told, and what we should also see, is that there are many who will abandon the beliefs in Jesus and pursue strange and convoluted ways of finding God and inner peace.  We should not be one of those who follow ridiculous teachings or superstitious practices.

We need to see that God has created all things to be good.  And if we can remain firm in our connection to the Lord, through prayer and study we can establish an unshakable faith in the one true God.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  What gives you confidence in the teachings of Jesus?

Committed 2

It can be both an exciting time and a frightening time when graduation rolls around.  It is exciting to know that a chapter of our life is ended and we are ready to embark on yet another new chapter.  But with that can come the uncertainty of what the future holds.  What will we do?  How will we do it?  Do we have what it takes?

The same is true of our faith life.  We can rest comfortably in the familiar beliefs we have always held.  We may even see our Christian faith as something safe and simple.  But that is not where we need to stay.  We need to move forward in faith, grow in our relationship with God and dare to do holy things.

The author of Hebrews offers some words of encouragement.  What confidence should we have?  Who guides us?

The message on Mother’s Day was about the roots of our faith and mention was made of all the people who have guided us in our beliefs.  So many people, our parents and other spiritual leaders from our youth, have helped to mold us into the faithful people we are now.  We are influenced by the faithful who surround us in our lives today.

Hebrews tells us to remember our leaders, those great saints of the faith who have paved the way of our connection to God, who set an example of love and good works in their lives.  We should consider the results of their lives, the confidence in God they held.  And we should learn to imitate their ways, to live as loving Christians in the same way they lived.

But more than relying on the examples set by faithful ancestors, we have confidence in our Lord.  Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  He is the greatest leader we can have, the best example on how to live and love.  We must root our faith in the Lord.

And so, as we face the uncertainty of the future whether we are a graduate or simply moving ahead in our life, we must place our confidence in the teachings of Christ.  We must look to the exemplary lives of our religious leaders.  And from all of these we can gain the confidence and knowledge, the ability, to move ahead in our faith.  We can grow into new Christians with a new faith, a stronger faith, a deeper commitment to God.  We have been shown how to be better Christians, more confident believers.  We must live out our heritage.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  What gives you the confidence to grow in your faith?

Committed 1

2 Peter 1:12-18

Did man really go to the moon?  There are many people who believe it is a big hoax.  That everyone involved in the space program, the media and the government were somehow convinced first to lie and then to maintain that lie for the rest of their lives.  But WHY? Watch the Mythbusters video clip above to see at least one bit of evidence busted.  

Today's reading is about the truth.   Peter is already referencing the rumors that everything about Jesus was made up.  But why?  What purpose does it serve to make up a story that puts you in the line of fire of the Romans and the Jews?  Who does it benefit to watch your friends and fellow believers martyred and tortured? 

And that is precisely what Peter is experiencing.  The other disciples (and very soon Peter himself) are dying just for sticking to their story. 

In today's world many people still claim that Jesus' ministry, death and resurrection was just an elaborate hoax.  That there is no basis in fact for anything that happened.  That the witnesses were either suffering from mass hysteria or that they were all in on the lie. 

But Peter reminds us that it wasn't something that they heard about or made up.  They were eyewitnesses to the whole thing.  They saw the majesty themselves.  They heard God's voice when Jesus ascended into heaven.  They saw him, touched him, ate with him, walked with him and it was real.

One thing that fascinates me about conspiracy theories is that EVERYONE has to keep the secret.  Not one person can ever back down or get scared.  And in all the years since the moon landings, no one has ever come forward and admitted the hoax.  As a matter of fact, when astronauts are asked about it, they get pretty hot under the collar.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  Do you believe the story of Jesus?  Enough that you would stand by your story even in the face of sceptics?  Even in the face of danger?