Pastor's Devotionals


Nov. 23

Ann Hardy's Devotional - November 23


Please join me in prayer. Take a deep breath, and exhale as much tension as you can from your body. If you need more than one breath, that is fine. The goal is to get your mind and body present in the moment and attuned to God.


In your mind’s eye, imagine Jesus sitting in front of you. You are sitting on the floor at his feet with a basin of water and some towels, preparing to wash his feet. You recognize and appreciate how much Jesus has done for you, and you want to serve him in some small way.


As you begin washing his feet you also begin talking. You want to tell Jesus how grateful you are for your blessings, but that isn’t the whole story of your life at the moment. And you feel compelled to be completely honest. So, you begin to tell him of your challenges. You talk about how worried you are about the health of your loved ones. You talk about your concerns at work, the money you don’t have, your frustration with the injustices of our society, and how you feel inadequate to meet these challenges. The more you talk, the more the flood gates open. You want to be completely open and honest. Between the foot washing and the talking, you haven’t paid attention to the man in front of you.


When you are finally finished with your task and your talking, you look up. Jesus has heard your concerns. On his face you see love and acceptance of who you are and what you have brought to him. He knows that you have been completely honest with him.


But you notice something else on his face. It is determination. Jesus is determined to not only help you through all the challenges of your life as only he can, but to create something beautiful with them. Because your heart has been open, he can grow closer to you. And, he can create something beautiful of the mess you have offered to him. Something that is useful to you and to the kingdom of God.


And so, you feel better. Better that you have not only served Jesus, but you have been faithful in telling him all the concerns of your life. Better because you know that Jesus won’t let you down. What a relief! Thank you, Jesus!


Amen

Nov. 21

Carolyn Wood's Devotional for November 21

"The Old Rugged Cross"


Which of us humans can fathom the love our Father has for us? Can you? I certainly cannot, even though I’ve tried. Finally, after much reading, studying and praying, I have simply come to accept what the passage, John 3:16, tells us about our Father’s love. There is no friend so steadfast or true, no other relationship as deep. Learning to depend solely on God for our very existence is a lifelong endeavor and a journey that many of us come to with trepidation. No need -- He is steady, He is here, He will never fail. When the world is in chaos around us, God remains the constant comfort and guide. All we need do is look to the Cross to realize it.


THE OLD RUGGED CROSS

1913


For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16


George Beverly Shea recalls seeing George Bennard, author of this hymn, many times at Winona Lake Bible Conference in Indiana. “Though a preacher – a good one –he would sometimes sing,” wrote Mr. Shea. “His voice was not trained or out of the ordinary, but he had great feeling and expression and could really put over any hymn. I remember how moved I was the first time I heard him sing his own ‘The Old Rugged Cross….’What a distinguished looking man—slight of build, short, with glasses, the most memorable thing about him was his long, white hair.”


George Bennard was born in Youngstown, Ohio, shortly after the end of the Civil War. His father, a coal miner, moved the family to Iowa, and there, George came to Christ through the ministry of the Salvation Army. He felt impressed to train for the ministry, but his plans were disrupted when his father’s death left him responsible for his mother and sisters. He was sixteen years old. Instead of theological school, he worked by day and devoted his spare time to books.


Eventually George’s obligations lessened, and he was able to move to Chicago, marry, and begin in ministry with the Salvation Army. Later he was ordained by the Methodist Episcopal church and became a traveling evangelist.


On one occasion, after a difficult season of ministry, George realized he needed to better understand the power of the Cross of Christ. He later said, “I was praying for a full understanding of the Cross… I read and studied and prayed … The Christ of the Cross became more than a symbol … It was like seeing John 3:16 leave the printed page, take form, and act out the meaning of redemption. While watching this scene with my mind’s eye, the theme of the song came to me.”


It took several months for the words to formulate in his mind. As he preached through the Midwest, George would carry the words with him, working on them, polishing them, and sometimes singing them in his meetings. It always struck a chord with his audiences.


At last, his hymn finished, George went to the home of his friends, Rev. and Mrs. L.O. Boswick, and sang it for them. After the last note, he looked at them and asked, “Will it do?”


The Boswicks were so moved that they helped pay the fees to have it printed, and it soon began appearing in hymnbooks across America.


Two versions of this timeless and moving hymn are offered here:

George Beverly Shea https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3wps8HVq_k

Alan Jackson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CltrLsjsQl0



And, I bring a modern hymn with the message of the cross: “How Deep The Father’s Love For Us” by Stuart Townend https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nR-N_Oh4uNg

WorshipMob live & spontaneous worship - How Deep The Father's Love for Us by Stuart Townend. Change a child's life with us! http://compassion.com/worshipmob ...


Nov. 18

Amanda's Devotional for November 18

Amanda Wilhite was the Sunday School teacher for the Northwest Campus when it first began meeting and continued teaching until the pandemic. She now attends the University of Nevada in Reno.


Pastor David's devotionals will return next week.


John 13:5-11 (NIV)

5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” 9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” 10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.


A lot of time we look at this as Jesus serving others, which is totally what it is, but there’s another take on this. When he said, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand,” Jesus was making them clean. We see this when he said “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet.” Once we’ve been saved by Jesus, we’re clean, but we still do things. Little sins in our life every day that we need Jesus to clean. That’s one of the things his washing his disciples feet represents.


A friend and I were talking and she said, “Sometimes I want to wash my own feet, and I forget that Jesus can wash my feet better than I can.” Of course, she’s not talking about her literal feet. What’s she’s saying is she can’t clean her sins and she can’t fix what’s going on in her life, not really. Only Jesus can do that, but a lot of times we’re too prideful to turn to God. We don’t want to ask for help because we feel that if we want help we’re admitting defeat. And other times, we feel just like Simon Peter, like we’re not worthy of God’s help. When Simon Peter said “you shall never wash my feet,” he wasn’t saying “Nope, I don’t want you to wash my feet.” He was saying, “Lord, You’re too Good to wash my feet.”


Jesus is the only one who can clean us, who can make us whole again for God. And he wants to. That’s why he came to this earth, that through his death we can be made clean. So we have to let Jesus help us with the things in our life. Whether it’s controlling our tongue, or maybe it’s a big sin that you’ve really been struggling with, or maybe you’re just not super nice to that one person. Whatever the issues in our lives are, Jesus can clean them a lot better than we can.


Find at least one thing in your life that you can give to God so he can wash it. Once we’ve been bathed, once we’ve given our lives to God, it’s not our whole body that needs to be cleaned. It’s the little issues I invite you to give to God today, and let him show you how he can clean them.

Nov. 16

Amanda Wilhite's Devotional

Amanda was the Sunday School teacher for the Northwest Campus when it first began meeting and continued teaching until the pandemic. She now attends the University of Nevada in Reno.


"Faith over Fear"


1 John 4:18 NIV

18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.


What I love about this verse is it says perfect love, and that’s talking about the love God has for us which is completely perfect. A few years ago a popular quote about this from a couple of years ago was “Let your trust in God be bigger than your fear.” What I love about this is it says bigger than your fears. A lot of time when I read this verse I would think that meant I wasn’t supposed to be afraid, that I wasn’t allowed to have fear. As much as I tried not to have fear, and I tried really hard, I was still scared. I use to wonder how people could not be afraid because I was so scared. I use to beg God to take this fear away. And then I thought I that I was doing something wrong because I still had this fear no matter how hard I tried to give it to God and not be afraid, I was still scared.


Then I read this verse and I compared it to the quote, and I realized it said Let you faith in God be bigger than your fears. It doesn’t mean you’re not supposed to have them, but your faith in God can help you overcome those fears. I think that’s a really important part.


I have a lot of fears in my life. There’s a lot of things that I’m scared to do that God calls me to do. One of the things I love about God is that he doesn’t just drop us off the deep end without first teaching us to swim. Our whole lives he prepares us for our next big challenge by helping us face the little fears first.

One of these little challenges for me was SSP. For those of you who don’t know, our church as this mission trip called Sierra Service Project where the youth goes and serves for one week. We have no phones this week. We’re out who knows where so we don’t get good cell service even if we had our phones, and we do some hard work out in the sun. It doesn’t sound very appealing, but it’s one of my favorite weeks of the whole year because we’re really out there serving God.


But I was terrified to go. Nuh-uh, I wasn’t having it. When my youth leader first asked me 9 months before we were supposed to leave, I wasn’t going to go. I just wasn’t emotionally ready, as much as I wanted to be. As the year progressed, God made me ready to go on this trip. And I wasn’t going to, but finally I agreed. I expected to hate the week. But my faith in God allowed me to go anyway, and I ended up loving it!


That one week, being away from my parents without my cell phone has then prepared me to go to college. Even though I have my cell phone, I don’t get to see my parents very often. In the beginning, the end of first semester seemed like it was forever. Because God had prepared me with things like SSP, and other things in my past, I was able to have enough faith in God to overcome this fear.


When I’m freaking out about something, I tend to have a lot of what ifs. I think we all do. What if nobody in college likes me; what if something at home happens and I can’t get back; what if I’m not smart enough for college; what if I just don’t like it. I had a really good friend tell me that “What If equals Fear. Even If equals Faith.” Even if nobody likes me, I still have my parents and I still have God; even if something happens and I can’t go home, I know it’s in God’s power.


Even If. I think that’s the real key in turning our fears into a situation where we can have faith a little bit easier. I’m not saying fears will disappear because they won’t. It’s perfectly natural part of life to have fear, but it’s a part that comes from the devil. What God wants us to do is to trust him over our fears. It’s a lot like when Peter was walking on water. He took his eyes off Jesus, off the one who could save him. He looked at everything around him and his fears got so much that he began to sink. But God pulled his attention and was able to lift him back up when Peter focused on God.


This week, use Even If instead of What If statements in order to focus back on God over the weights of this world.

Journal Prompts

The "How Is It With Your Soul?" journal prompts will take the place of our daily devotionals

during this sermon series.


There will be journal prompts on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday of each week.

Each contains scriptures and multiple questions to help you reflect on that week's question

in our sermon series, "How Is It With Your Soul?"

How Is It With My Soul - Week 4


Saturday 11/14

Do I grumble and complain about others?


Luke 6:41-42 MSG

41-42 “It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this I-know-better-than-you mentality again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your own part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.


James 3:17-18 MSG

17-18 Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.


Journal Reflection

• Read through both passages above. What phrase or phrases stand out to you? Write them in your journal. Reflect on how those you selected speak to you today.

• How does the passage from James characterize God’s real wisdom? What does it look like? Why is it “hard work?” How does grumbling make it harder?

• At the core of the passage from Luke is the word contempt. Look up and write down a definition of contempt in your journal. How is holding someone in contempt related to grumbling?

• What is the condition of a grumbling heart? What is it focused on? What is it unable to see? What “wisdom” is it lacking?

• Do you grumble and complain about others?



Wednesday 11/11

Is there someone I have yet to forgive? Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold resentment toward or disregard?


Matthew 18:21-22

21 Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.


Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.


Journal Reflection

• Have you ever done anything for which you need forgiveness?

• Do you believe that God has forgiven you? If not, do you believe that your actions are beyond the power of God?

• Do you have any bitterness or resentment toward another person?

• What is the relationship between your ability to accept forgiveness and your ability to forgive others?

• Forgiveness is not a feeling we have. It is a decision we make. What keeps you from making the decision to forgive?

• Is there someone you need to forgive?



Monday 11/9

Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?


Matthew 6:24-33 MSG

“You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can’t worship God and Money both.

“If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

“Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.


Journal Reflection

• What does it mean to be a slave to something or someone?

• How can anxiety about dress, friends, work, or habits come to consume or control us?

• How does Jesus describe the life of Christian freedom in this passage?

• How does being “preoccupied with getting” prevent us from living the “life of God-worship” we are meant to live in response to God’s giving?

• Are you a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?


Journal Prompts


The "How Is It With Your Soul?" journal prompts will take the place of our daily devotionals

during this sermon series.


There will be journal prompts on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday of each week.

Each contains scriptures and multiple questions to help you reflect on that week's question

in our sermon series, "How Is It With Your Soul?"

How is it with your Soul? -  Week 3


Saturday 11/7


Do I give the Bible time to speak to me? Did the Bible Live in me today?


Psalm 1:2-3 NRSV

2 but their delight is in the law of the Lord,

    and on his law they meditate day and night.

3 They are like trees

    planted by streams of water,

which yield their fruit in its season,

    and their leaves do not wither.


Psalm 19:7-14 (NRSV)

7 The law of the Lord is perfect,

    reviving the soul;

the decrees of the Lord are sure,

    making wise the simple;

8 the precepts of the Lord are right,

    rejoicing the heart;

the commandment of the Lord is clear,

    enlightening the eyes;

9 the fear of the Lord is pure,

    enduring forever;

the ordinances of the Lord are true

    and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold,

    even much fine gold;

sweeter also than honey,

    and drippings of the honeycomb.

11 Moreover by them is your servant warned;

    in keeping them there is great reward.

12 But who can detect their errors?

    Clear me from hidden faults.

13 Keep back your servant also from the insolent;

    do not let them have dominion over me.

Then I shall be blameless,

    and innocent of great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

    be acceptable to you,

    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.


Journal Reflection

• How would you describe the psalmist’s experience of scripture in Psalm 1 and 19? What images and words stand out to you? Make a list. Be specific.

• In what ways did scripture speak to the psalmists?

• How did the psalmists experience scripture living in them?

• Write down in your own words the ways that scripture has to spoken to you. How have you experienced scripture living in you?

• How can you give the Bible time to speak to you each day?

• Did the Bible live in you today?



Wednesday 11/4


Do I thank God that I am not like others?


Luke 18:9-14 NLT

9 Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: 10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’


13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”


Journal Reflection

• Describe the prayer of the Pharisee in your own words.

• Describe the prayer of the Tax Collector in your own words.

• What was the Pharisee focused on?

• What was the Tax Collector focused on?

• What did the Pharisee place confidence in?

• What did the Tax Collector place confidence in?

• What are we really doing when we thank God that we are not like others?

• Do you thank God that you are not like others?



Monday 11/2


Did I disobey God in anything?


Hebrews 4:12 NRSV

Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.


1 John 1:9 NRSV

But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from everything we’ve done wrong.


Psalm 51:10 NRSV

Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and put a new and right spirit within me.


Journal Reflection

The passage from Hebrews paints an extremely vivid picture of living word of God actively working in the life of the believer.

• Have you experienced scripture working in your life in this way?

• How did reading scripture bring to awareness the change that was needed?

• How did you respond?

• What assurances do we receive from 1 John about God’s response to our desire to change?

• Have you disobeyed God in anything?


Journal Prompts


The "How Is It With Your Soul?" journal prompts will take the place of our daily devotionals

during this sermon series. 


There will be journal prompts on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday of each week.

Each contains scriptures and multiple questions to help you reflect on that week's question

in our sermon series, "How Is It With Your Soul?"

How is it with your Soul? - Week 2


Saturday 10/31

Am I enjoying my prayer life?


Philippians 4:5-7 NRSV

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice…The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


John Wesley

“After being filled with love, there is no more interruption of it than the beating of their hearts. And continual love bringing continual joy in the Lord, they rejoice evermore. They converse continually with the God whom they love, unto whom in everything they give thanks. And as they now love God with all their heart and with all their soul and with all their mind and with all their strength, so Jesus now reigns alone in their heart, the Lord of every motion there.” JW Sermon “On Patience” (1784), 10 (Works, 3:175-76)


Journal Reflection

• Compare Paul’s comments on prayer with those of Wesley: What common themes, images, or words stand out to you? Make a list. Be specific.

• How would you describe your prayer life? What words would you use?

• In Wesley’s quote, what is the reason for the Christian’s continual conversation with God in prayer?

• What does our enjoyment (or lack thereof) of our prayer life reveal to us about our relationship with God?

• Are you enjoying your prayer life?



Wednesday 10/28


Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable or distrustful?


James 3:13-16 MSG

13-16 Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.


Luke 6:37-38 MSG

37-38 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”


Journal Reflection

• The passage from James describes jealousy as “mean-spirited ambition.” What action words does James use to characterize the presence of jealousy in relationships? What is the outcome?

• How does Luke’s advice to “give away your life” help overcome distrust of others? What is the result of giving away your life?

• How is distrust linked to being critical and irritable with others? How does Luke explain this cycle in relationships?

• Are you jealous, impure, critical, irritable or distrustful?



Monday 10/26

Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?


Matthew 23:25-28 NLT

25 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! 26 You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too…Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. 28 Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.


1 Corinthians 13:4 CEB

4 Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant


Psalm 17:10 NIV

10 They close up their callous hearts, and their mouths speak with arrogance.


Journal Reflection

• On what were the Pharisees focused?

• How is pride related to hypocrisy?

• How can pride deceive us, leading us to hypocrisy?

• Read 1 Corinthians and Psalm 17. How is arrogance contrary to love? What does it cause?

• What is love focused on?

• On what is God focused?

• What should be our focus as Christians?

• Are you a hypocrite?

Journal Prompts


The "How Is It With Your Soul?" journal prompts will take the place of our daily devotionals.


There will be journal prompts on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday of each week.

Each contains scriptures and multiple questions to help you reflect on that week's question

in our sermon series, "How Is It With Your Soul?"

How is it with your Soul? - Week 1


Saturday 10/24


How do I spend my spare time?


Psalm 39:4-5 NRSV

4 “Lord, let me know my end,

    and what is the measure of my days;

    let me know how fleeting my life is.

5 You have made my days a few handbreadths


James 4:13-15 CEB

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.” 14 Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.”


Psalm 31:14-15 CEB

14 But I trust in you, O Lord;

    I say, “You are my God.”

15 My times are in your hand


Genesis 2:2-3 NRSV

2 And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.


Exodus 20:8 NRSV

8 Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.


Journal Reflection

• How do the first two passages help us to think about the amount of time we have? How would you describe it? What is important to recognize?

• How does the passage from Psalm 31 help us to think about James’ instruction in verse fifteen?

• What does it mean to entrust God with the time we have?

• Does Christian stewardship apply only to money? How might it also apply to our time?

• Reflect on the passage from Genesis and Exodus. Was Sabbath rest made for God or us? How is getting adequate rest important as a spiritual practice?

• How do you spend your spare time?



Wednesday 10/21


Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?


James 3:16-18

16-18 My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness.


Romans 8:5-14 MSG

5-14 Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life.

Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing...But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him…So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!


Journal Reflection

Google dictionary defines the state of being self-conscious, as feeling undue awareness of oneself, one's appearance, or one's actions; self-pity, as excessive, self-absorbed unhappiness over one's own troubles, and self-justification, as the justification or excusing of oneself or one's actions.

• What are the outcomes of a life overly focused on the self?

• How does the passage from James contrast the life of freedom in God’s Spirit to the life focused on the self? What are the “compulsions” of focusing on the self? It may be helpful to make a list.

• How does the passage from Romans contrast trusting God’s action within us to obsession with self? Where does focusing on God lead us? Where does focusing on the self, lead us?

• Are you self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?


Monday 10/19


Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?


1 Timothy 4:2 NLV

2 Those who teach this tell it as the truth when they know it is a lie. They do it so much that their own hearts no longer say it is wrong.


2 Timothy 3:16 NRSV

16 All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.


1 Timothy 1:19 NLV

19 Keep a strong hold on your faith in Christ. May your heart always say you are right. Some people have not listened to what their hearts say. They have done what they knew was wrong. Because of this, their faith in Christ was wrecked.


Journal Reflection

• What warning do we find in 1 Timothy 4:2 about ignoring our conscience? What is the eventual result?

• How does scripture inform the Christian’s conscience?

• How can ignoring your conscience affect your faith?

• How does an uneasy conscious affect your prayer life?

• Do you insist on doing something about which your conscience is uneasy?