Get Over The Hump Day Devotional: Grace

Get Over The Hump Day Devotional

Grace

by Jackson Bailey

 

 Christians live in a state of Grace. We are given what we do not deserve, and that’s a very good thing. I can’t count how many times I’ve failed. Let me see if you can relate. Sometimes I struggle with a sin of some kind and find myself disobeying God on purpose because I want what I want. Then after getting “my way” I feel shameful and defeated, knowing good and well that I knew my way would not bring me true happiness, and having known the truth I exchanged it for a lie.  And I find myself depressed and broken over my sin. I repent and then turn around and sometimes do the very same thing again leaving me feeling like I’m useless. If you can relate, just say, “Amen, God help me” and keep reading.

 

All sin is an offense against God, and the Enemy seems to know which ones we are most susceptible to. And so we find ourselves in the midst of trouble, and life starts to get overwhelming…..until we hear God saying, “I Love You” and we feel unworthy, because indeed we are, and we cry out, “I am unworthy” and God smiles and we cry out for forgiveness and God says, “I forgive you.” And we begin to feel broken and strengthened at the same time, understanding that God has promised to forgive us (1 JOHN 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”).  He is eager to forgive us (PSALM 86:5 For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You). He wants a relationship with us (1 JOHN 4:10 “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us.”) He died for us WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS (ROMANS 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.). He knows we’re weak, and wants us to know He is Strong. He knows we will fall, but He will pick us up. Search out and believe His promises. They are for you. They are true. They are real. You can be useful. You will be forgiven when you ask. No, it doesn’t matter how many times you fail (MATTHEW 18:21-22 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.) He forgives because He is long-suffering, He is patient, He is kind. GOD IS LOVE (1 JOHN 4:7-8). It doesn’t matter if you feel loved, because love isn’t a feeling, Love is a Person, the very person of God. God is Spirit and He IS the spirit of love. Rest assured believer, you are still loved. He doesn’t leave you or forsake you (DEUTERONOMY 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”)

There are things God can NOT do! He can Not be untrue to His nature or His promises (Psalm 89:34 My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of my lips.) He must be faithful, He must be true, He must forgive, He must love. And that is great news for us believers. (There is of course, another side to that for those who do not know Him. He also must punish sin for those who will not deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him [REVELATION 20:14-15 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire)]. I’ll say it again, because some of you may doubt it. God still loves you, God still wants to use you, God still forgives you again and again and again. Grace. Accept it. Believe what God has said. Don’t make the sin worse by denying the forgiveness He has promised to give you. All hail the power of Jesus ‘name. Grace is yours, from God. Be free from that guilt. If your boat was sinking and your child had a hold on the boat and wouldn’t let go, how would you feel? Right, so let go of that guilt that is trying to drag you down and be free again. The Bible is full of great men and women who were failures for a reason. It’s so we could relate. It’s so we would understand that God forgives, He picks us up, He uses us anyway. A man after God’s own heart can commit adultery and murder and be forgiven and used again for the glory of God. Read in Psalm 51 one of the most sorrowful and thoughtful prayers ever. Use that as a guide when you need to pour out your heart to Him.

 

“Grace to You” is how Paul liked to open his letters. He knew the scriptures better than anyone, and had ignored the truths in them for years. Peter knew Jesus, and he was ready to fight one moment and the next he was denying He even knew Him. Maybe that’s you. It’s been me before. Good news! God loves you. God forgives you. God will make you useful once again. Ask for His forgiveness, and don’t forget to receive it.

Grace. It’s a gift He wants you to have, so take it. Hold onto it. Never let it go. Grace be to you today, and every day.

I’ll leave you with this last verse:

HEBREWS 4:16 – Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Get Over The Hump Day: A,B,C….Where’s D? Devotional

Get Over The Hump Day: It’s Who You Know Devotional

Years ago I moved to Orlando to try to get a job at one of the theme parks. When I got there the guy I was supposed to move in with told me his family was going through some difficulties and so I had to find another place to live. Thankfully another wonderful family took me in for a while. I started looking for a job and went to Universal Studios to fill out an application and I told them I wanted to do some acting on one of the rides. They had King Kong, Jaws, etc. They told me all those positions had been filled and I went home feeling defeated. I talked to a friend about it who had worked there before and he gave me the name of the lady in charge of hiring actors so I went back and filled out a second application. On this application I said I wanted to wait tables and in small writing beside it I also put that I’d like to work on one of the rides. They finally brought me back for an interview to wait tables and when she asked me what I wanted to do I said, “I’d like to work on one of the rides.” She then responded, “Oh, well it says that you wanted to wait tables.” Then I replied, “Well if you’ll look there I also put down I’d like to work on one of the rides.” She then told me, as I’d heard before, that those jobs were already taken. This time I was ready and I responded that I knew this lady (we’ll call her Wanda) through one of my friends and asked if she would go ask Wanda if I could interview for the job on one of the rides. The lady interviewing me seemed a bit agitated but since I’d thrown out Wanda’s name, and Wanda was really the one in charge, I believe she felt obligated to at least go ask her. The lady left and came back in a few minutes telling me to come back tomorrow and interview with Wanda for one of the rides. I went back in the next day and did a reading and Wanda gave me my choice. I chose to work on The Jaws ride and I had a blast. The point here is that it matters WHO YOU KNOW.

It just so happens that I know someone waaaaaay more important than Wanda. I know personally and intimately The God of the universe. Yet I still find myself in a tailspin of worry and doubt sometimes. Do you ever feel that way? I know it’s crazy. I know it’s even wrong. God has promised that He would take care of our needs ( MATTHEW 6:25-34). He doesn’t break His promises. I was taking a shower the other day and I was thinking about God (I think the shower is one of the last places left that a person can get away from a cell phone) and I began to ask some questions to myself. Is He sufficient? Can He do all things? Does He care about me? Is He worthy to be trusted? Think about that. Is God worthy to be trusted? I think I hear you saying, “Yes!, yes HE IS!” Unfortunately it doesn’t take us long to forget that does it? And that drives me crazy. Sometimes I worry about work or my family or certain situations as if for some reason God has fallen asleep. Good news everyone! God never sleeps (PSALM 121:4). He is indeed WORTHY to be TRUSTED, so relax and let’s read some verses together.
PROVERBS 3:5 ESV
TRUST in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
ROMANS 8:28 ESV
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
PSALM 37:4-6 ESV
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; TRUST in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.
PROVERBS 3:6 ESV
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
PSALM 46:10 ESV
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
HEBREWS 13:8 ESV
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
MARK 5:36 ESV
But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”
ROMANS 15:13 ESV
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
PSALM 9:10 ESV
And those who know your name put their TRUST in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
PSALM 28:7 ESV
The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart TRUSTS, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
JEREMIAH 29:11 ESV
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
PSALM 112:7 ESV
He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, TRUSTING in the Lord.
HEBREWS 11:6 ESV
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
ISAIAH 26:3 ESV
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he TRUSTS in you.
JOSHUA 1:9 ESV
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
PSALM 91:1-16 ESV
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I TRUST.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, …
ISAIAH 43:2-3 ESV
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
JOB 13:15 ESV
Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face.
PSLAM 40:1-17 ESV
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. BLESSED IS THE MAN WHO MAKES THE LORD HIS TRUST, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told. …
JEREMIAH 17:7-8 ESV
“BLESSED IS THE MAN WHO TRUSTS IN THE LORD, WHOSE TRUST IS THE LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
MARK 9:24 ESV
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
Do you know Jesus Christ? If so, ask yourself, “Is He worthy of my trust?” Ask yourself that question and keep those verses above handy anytime you begin to worry or doubt. Memorize those verses. The word is our only offensive weapon. Draw out that sword and destroy that doubt, worry and fear with the perfect powerful promises of God. Be encouraged, He knows what’s going on in your life. Have a better day as you let go of that stress and take a step closer to God by TRUSTING HIM.

The Over The Hump Day Devotional – “OMG”

I was a teenager and I was riding with my dad over to my granddad’s house. When we pulled into the driveway I made a comment about praying.  I don’t remember what we were talking about… I only remember that I wanted to say something about praying to God.  For some reason I felt a little strange about making the statement (probably because I was an awkward teenage boy and if you know one of these creatures they tend to feel and be awkward) and I said something to the effect of “taking my concerns to the big man upstairs.”  I’m sure I was trying to say something in a “cool” way.  But my dad seemed offended.  He paused for a few moments and then began to help me understand that there are better ways to address and refer to our God.  The conversation didn’t last long, but it’s never left me and I never referred to God again as “the man upstairs” because at that moment my eyes were opened to how inadequate and inappropriate those words are when talking about My Holy Righteous Divine Heavenly Father.

 

I hope to make a similar impact right now on anyone who professes to be a follower of Jesus.  There are many ways that are inappropriate when talking about God, but one in particular that has made its way into even the Christian’s common vocabulary is the phrase “Oh My God” … which has now been shortened and made popular as “OMG”.  I’m asking all of you reading this to help me get the word out… that God’s name deserves to be honored, not used as if it were something you toss away after using it. Here are some things to consider and to share:

HOW DO THE SCRIPTURES REFER TO GOD?

GOD THE FATHER:

God Most High (Gen. 14:18)

Our Shield (Ps. 59:11)

Holy One (Ps. 71:22)

God of Heaven (Neh. 1:5)

Great and Awesome God (Neh. 1:5)

My Strength (Ps. 59:9)

My Loving God (Ps. 59:10)

God Who Avenges (Ps. 94:1)

Judge of the Earth (Ps. 94:2)

Abba, Father (Mark 14:36)

Only True God (John 17:3)

God of Peace (IThes. 5:23)

God the Blessed and Only Sovereign (1 Tim. 6:15)

God of all Grace (1 Pet. 5:10)

GOD THE SON

Master (Luke 17:13)

Son of Man (Luke 19:10)

The Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25)

Teacher and Lord (John 13:13)

Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6)

Bread of Life (John 6:35)

True Vine (John 15:1)

Our high priest (Heb. 5:10)

GOD THE SPIRIT

Spirit of Truth (John 16:13)

Spirit of Holiness (Rom. 1:4)

Spirit of Life (Rom. 8:2)

Eternal Spirit (Heb. 9:14)

 

HOW DO THE DEMONS ADDRESS THE SAVIOR?

MARK 1:24 (NIV)

“What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are-THE HOLY ONE OF GOD!”

MARK 3:11 (ASV)

And the unclean spirits, whensoever they beheld him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, THOU ARE THE SON OF GOD.

 

HOW SHOULD WE ADDRESS GOD?

Here’s some insight…

EXODUS 20:7

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.”

(The word “vain” means “for no reason” or “useless.” God was instructing the Israelites to avoid using His name in a useless, disrespectful way.)

MATTHEW 12:36-37, Jesus says: “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned.”

 

The words we use are important.  How we speak about God is of the utmost importance.  So Christians, OMG HAS NO PLACE IN YOUR VOCABULARY.  It bothers me how many church goers seem to throw out the phrase “Oh My God” in a way that does not honor or worship Him at all.  Vain words.  Idle words.  If you’re a believer, then I’m your brother, and as your brother I’m asking my spiritual family members to see me as that weaker brother to whom you are offending when you use that phrase. Start listening.  You’ll hear others use it without one thought of The Savior who died for them.  Use that list above, address Him as The God of Heaven or Master or The God of all Grace, or The Spirit of Truth and Holiness, even as Abba Father or Friend.  HE IS a Mighty Warrior, HE IS a Loving Father, HE IS KING, HE IS LORD and HE IS WORTHY TO BE PRAISED!  Let the old song be a reminder, “Oh be careful little tongue what you say,” and if your lips ever utter that OMG phrase, I pray it’s because you’re addressing THE HOLY ONE and not because you’re excited about the new movie that just came out.  The next time you speak, remember that The God of the Universe is listening. Address Him accordingly.

Get Over The Hump Day – Valentine Devotional What is Love? (baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me no more….)

I’ve stated openly before that I did not do dating correctly. There are better ways to find a mate than treating each other like new clothing. Trying each other out like we’re buying clothes and then when it’s getting old we throw it out and look for something new. This subject deserves its own devotional so I’ll stop short of the subject of dating for now and launch right into the subject of LOVE. This is a simple idea that goes deeper than we could ever imagine but here it is: LOVE IS NOT A FEELING. I’ll say it again: LOVE IS NOT A FEELING. This was part of my struggle in dating. When you’re friends with someone of the opposite sex and you really like that person you gain affectionate feelings for that person. You might even love that person but it may not be in a marital way but you have these…..”feelings”. Example: If you have a sister, you have feelings for that sister. You also love her very much, but that doesn’t mean you would make out with her (even if you’re from Alabama, sorry had to get that in there. Maybe I should say Roll Tide to make it better….) so remember that we are Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Feelings often lead us in the wrong direction and confuse us. God never leads us down the wrong road or attempts to confuse His children. We get confused because our society (led by our enemy) has twisted the idea of what love and affection really are and how they should be used. Let’s define LOVE from The Holy Word of God.

1 JOHN 4:7-8 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for GOD IS LOVE. Did you read that last line? Love has been defined as God Himself. GOD IS LOVE. Therefore it’s clear that anything that HE is not in can NOT be love. IF IT IS AGAINST HIS WORD, IT CANNOT BE LOVE. That will answer a lot of your questions concerning certain situations in life such as sex outside marriage, homosexuality, reading certain books or watching movies based on the aforementioned subjects. 1 CORINTHIANS 6:9-11 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? DO NOT BE DECEIVED: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you WERE. But you were WASHED, you were SANCTIFIED, you were JUSTIFIED in the name of THE LORD JESUS CHRIST and by THE SPIRIT OF our GOD. There can be no actual love in those things because God is not in those things. If you disagree here, ask yourself, “Am I disagreeing with Jackson, or am I disagreeing with God’s Word?” Or ask yourself, “Am I taking the Scripture at its word…for what it says? Or am I attempting to make the Scripture say what I want it to say about real love?” God is indeed love. There is no love in the back seat of that car no matter how much “love” is professed. God isn’t in it, therefore there is no love in it. March all day and night long about how you feel, but feelings do not change The Truth. I don’t feel it’s right to be taxed so highly but if I don’t pay my taxes, the truth is that I will go to jail!

 

We have downgraded love into something cheaper – Flippant words to put into songs or just a phrase to express our feelings based on getting something we want. Love seeks to give others what they need. Jesus never needed a sexual relationship. He was tempted. HEBREWS 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. But it wasn’t something to be attained for Him. Not because it was bad (within marriage it’s quite enjoyable) but because it wasn’t necessary for love. The strongest and truest LOVE has absolutely nothing to do with getting physical. It’s about being sacrificial. The reason we love is to honor God, not to please our bodies. 1 CORINTHIANS 6:12-17 “I have the right to do anything,” you say-but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”-but I will not be mastered by anything. You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” THE BODY, however, IS NOT MEANT FOR SEXUAL IMMORALITY BUT FOR THE LORD, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

 

OK believers, I’m not making “feelings” the enemy here but someone somewhere long ago decided to twist the meaning of love into something cheaper and it’s time we take back the meaning of Real Love. Do you Love God? There is a way to show it JOHN 14:21Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. According to God’s Word, if you LOVE HIM you will OBEY HIM. Read The Word and be discerning. Put down that book ladies. Turn off that computer men. Love can’t be found in the fantasy world by stirring up your feelings. It will be found by doing for others what Christ has done for us. Sacrificing our time and energy to do things that obey God and make a difference in others’ lives. Jesus showed us what LOVE IS. Yeah, it’s harder work. But sooooo much more fulfilling. I write this out of a spirit of love for my brothers and sisters in Christ. Have a great Valentine’s Day and know this….God Loves You!!

 

In the writing of this I realized that I used to think I loved Chick-Fil-A but the truth is that I would never sacrifice my life for the store (Sorry Chick-Fil-A) and must admit I just had feelings for its food. Those feelings are real and definitely ok but I wouldn’t call it true love, although it feels like it sometimes…….

Get Over The Hump Day Devotional – Wrong Decisions

If you watched or heard about Super Bowl 49 you’ll know where I got the title for this devotion. Although that was the worst play call I’ve ever seen in my lifetime, I’m not the one who has to live with it. And it was not a sin! Coach Carroll can rest easy knowing he can account to God for his decision. I know Seattle fans probably think it was a sin, but I assure you… it was not. However, making the decision to disobey God is and will always be a sin and is much worse than losing a big-time over-hyped game. Life is not a game. It’s so much more. Every decision counts and has an impact on someone.

                                                                             

I have waaaay too many personal stories to share on this subject. Fights in my marriage, missed moments with my kids, missed blessings that I could have had by doing something for others… All the selfish decisions I’ve made begin to mount up as I think about how many times my Loving yet Mighty Powerful Warrior God and Father has forgiven me for making the wrong decisions. I’m sure you understand where I’m coming from so let’s consider two things today.

FIRST: Understanding our failures and how to overcome them. We have all failed. We have all sinned and fallen short (ROMANS 3:23). We fight a spiritual battle everyday if we are believers. We are family and we must stick together in helping each other fight this battle and share with others the Truth so they might become part of our family. We, as a family of believers, fight against the sins of selfishness, laziness, pride, lust, envy, greed, etc. every day. ROMANS 6:12-13 – Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 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. We can’t go into battle without a strategy. We go to our Warrior God (EXODUS 15:3 –The LORD is a warrior; The LORD is His name) and ask for His help for each day. We get our mind set straight and we ask for wisdom from the One who gives it to us without hesitation (JAMES 1:5 –But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.) And if we fall during battle we cry out to our Merciful Leader (DEUTERONOMY 4:31a –For the LORD your God is a merciful God...) who will forgive us and save us and pick us up, defend us and set us back upon our feet so we can fight again. This is the life we’ve chosen. To live to please The One who deserves to be worshiped and praised (PSALM 96:1-13), and most importantly, obeyed (JOHN 14:23 –Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.) The Head of our family. The Great God and Father and Author and Finisher of our Faith. Go to Him each day. That is how we both gain understanding and forgiveness for our sins and wrong decisions.

 

SECOND: We help others see where they are failing, and help them overcome. This will require a lot of prayer and a lot of practice and a ton of love and concern for others. No one likes to be told that they are in sin or that they are consistently making the wrong decisions. However, we as a family of believers are to encourage and help each other overcome sin. HEBREWS 10:24 –And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. JAMES 5:16 – Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. PROVERBS 27:17 – Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. I once heard a friend say that “We should not go to others about God until we’ve gone to God about others.” The point here is, PRAYER.  Pray for the person before you confront them.  Matthew 18 is pretty clear about how to approach a believer who is in sin.  Follow that model with a heart full of love and understanding. Remember to treat them as you would want to be treated (Luke 6:31 – Do unto others….) and pray for their restoration.

 

As believers we will all make some bad decisions. We all sin but we’re all part of the same family and we take care of each other. We look out for our weaker brothers and sisters and strengthen them in the faith. We pray together and sing praises to Our Strong Worthy Creator. We’re all in this together. Forgive and be forgiven and stand together in The Faith. Maybe you’ve made a terrible decision. It’s ok. Your family will help you through the consequences of that decision and guide you back to Our Father who is ready and waiting to Forgive You because that’s the kind of Dad that HE IS. Oh… And if you’re ever in the Super Bowl, and you have one of the best running backs in the league, and you have the ball at the 1-yard line… run the ball.

By: Jackson Bailey