Devotionals + Inspiration
Washing and Mending
It was a hard, disappointing night spent in exhausting and fruitless labor. The sea would not yield its bounty. It would be time to go home soon. It would be an unpleasant answer when they were asked, “How was work today?” But first, the nets had to be washed and mended. Tonight, the work would begin again.Out from among those milling about the shore walked the Preacher. He had been causing quite a stir in the synagogues lately. Without hesitation, He walked onto Simon’s boat and asked to be taken a ways from the shore so He could teach the people. Uninvited, He had commandeered a workman’s boat and launched into a sermon. When done, He asked the man to work again: “Let down your nets for a catch.” The reply came: “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net” (Luke 5:4-5, NKJV). All the hours of fruitless labor were voided. The nets were full to the breaking point. Simon did not know how much his life and human history would change that day. Simon followed as Jesus preached, healed the sick, cast out demons, opened blinded eyes and gave Jairus his daughter back from the dead. In the years to follow, Simon would be transformed as this preacher from Nazareth commandeered not only his boat, but also his house, his mind, his heart and ultimately, his life. Simon knew none of this that day on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. All he knew that day was he had nowhere to hide. The Light of the World was shining on him, and he did not like what it revealed. Something broken in Simon cried out to something whole in Jesus: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:8). Luke’s account of the story speaks of them “washing” their nets. Matthew’s account refers to James and John “mending” their nets. The word used for “mend” is also translated as “complete, prepare, restore, to establish, to create and to equip.” Simon did not know it then, but those nets were giving witness to everything Jesus would do in and through him. Jesus would start “washing” and “mending” Simon because he was to be “a fisher of men.” It is as though God were saying to Simon: “You are broken and worn out. Just as these fishermen are washing and mending their nets, like you have done from your youth, today I am washing and mending you. I will cleanse you. I will heal you. I will restore you. I will complete you. I will establish you. I will equip you. And what you lack I will create in you. This is what I will do in you, and this is what I will do through you.” The purpose of God through our life (to be “fishers of men”) flows out of God’s process in our life (“washing” and “mending”). Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:11-12 that Christ, “gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” The word used for “equip” is from the same root word as “mend.” The purpose of our ministry is that those under our care will be “complete, prepared, restored, established, and equipped.” We who are “washed” and “mended” now serve others so they too can be “washed” and “mended.” Jesus calls us unto Himself to be “washed” and “mended;” then He casts us out into a sea of broken humanity with good news of great joy. Today I embrace His calling and His promise, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19). Prayer Points Lord, welcome into my heart and mind. Wash and mend me; I am in need today. Lord, help me to be a vessel of Your restoring grace in the life of someone today. Share your thoughts. See comments below, and add your own.
A Heart for Your City
Just northwest of Los Angeles sits Simi Valley, Calif., a city known as the home of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.Simi Valley is a community comprising those who want to live near L.A., but not in L.A. This suburb was blamed for acquitting four police officers in the Rodney King trial. Simi Valley is my city, my community, my suburb. Entering from the L.A. area, the freeway descends from a pass, giving you an amazing view of nearly all of Simi Valley. For four years, each time I made this descent, I prayed, “God, break my heart for my city.” I was confident that, most of the time, I truly liked my city, but in my heart I knew that I had yet to fully love my city. This became a prayer of frustration and even personal embarrassment. As a pastor, how could I not love the city to which God had called me? Jesus himself wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41), but I couldn’t shed a tear for my city. Then, it happened. One night, as our church council knelt to pray for our church and our city, seemingly out of nowhere I began to cry. Not being one who cries easily, I wasn’t sure where the tears were coming from. I worked hard to hide my emotions from the leaders in the room. Somehow, I was able to finish praying, conclude the meeting and make it to my car. Thinking I was in the clear, I started my drive home. Just two blocks from the church, the emotions hit me again, but this time it went from a few tears to a waterfall. As I drove, I felt an incredible weight I had never felt before. As I looked around to see people on the sidewalks and in their cars, these words echoed in my mind: “Do they really know how much God loves them? Do they really know all that Jesus went through for them?” Halfway home, I realized what was happening. God was answering my four-year prayer. He was allowing me to feel for the people of my city, what He had always felt for them. He was breaking my heart for what breaks His heart. He was filling my heart with love for my city. Through this encounter, the “what” of caring for my city hasn’t changed much, but the “how” certainly has changed. Every year, our church takes about a month to pray for our city. Each week is highlighted by a different focus (e.g., government, schools, neighborhoods, people groups). Recently, as I prayed and walked the streets of my city, I had a new love for our city’s growing Muslim population and its two mosques. I felt a deep conviction to care for struggling middle-schoolers. I prayed more compassionately for our city council members. I met new neighbors and reconnected with old ones. For the first time, I felt for my city what God always feels for my city. In the words of Brooke Fraser of Hillsong Worship, I pray, “Lord, Break my heart for what breaks yours. Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause.” Prayer Points Seek the welfare of your city (Jer. 29:7). See the people of your city (Matt. 9:35-36). Sense God’s love for your city (Luke 19:41). Share your thoughts. See comments below, and add your own.
A JOYful Life: Jesus, Others and You
Each morning I write the word “JOY” in all caps across the top of my daily planner. It’s not a reminder to be happy—I’m already a very happy person. It’s a reminder not to be selfish.You’d think after more than 50 years of walking with Jesus, I’d be over myself. I’m not. I’m still my own selfish pig. A few months ago, on my morning prayer walk, I was apologizing (again) for my selfish behavior and asking the Lord for help (again). The old acronym, JOY, popped into my mind: Jesus, Others, You. I laughed out loud because it’s clichéd and corny—but it’s true. The way to joy is to put Jesus first, then others and finally you. Scripture bears this out. Jesus said, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 16:25, NKJV). It is one of Jesus’ most oft-repeated sayings and is found also in Matt. 10:39, Mark 8:35, Luke 17:33 and John 12:25. Be selfish and try to keep your life, and you’ll lose it. Give your life away for Jesus, and you’ll find it. The life you’re looking for is found when you lose it, when you unselfishly give yourself away. Radical generosity—giving your life away for Jesus and others—is the way to joy! Jesus, others, you. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God—even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved” (1 Cor. 10:31–33, NIV, emphases added). Paul encourages us to live for the glory of God and the good of others. Jesus, others, you. I’m a talker. One of my selfish weaknesses is talking about myself too much. Sometimes when I appear to be listening, I’m really only thinking about what I want to say when you shut up! Adam McHugh, in his excellent book The Listening Life, uses the image of an arrow to picture our focus in conversation. When I’m truly listening to you, the arrow is pointing to you. But, if instead of listening, I’m thinking about what I want to say, or talking about myself, then the arrow points to me. My goal is to keep the arrow pointing at others. I learn more when I listen than when I talk. Jesus, others, you. So I’m using this acronym, JOY, to remind myself every day to live for Jesus first and then for others. Has it cured my selfishness? Nope. But I’m more aware of how I want to think, live and listen, and that awareness has translated into improvement—not a cure, but steady improvement. When I’m with others, I’m thinking more about them and less about me. I’m asking more questions and talking less about myself. And—this won’t surprise you—I’m happiest when I get beyond myself and focus on Jesus and others. It turns out that clichéd and corny acronym is still true. The way to joy is Jesus, others, then you. It’s a JOYful life! Prayer Points Ask the Lord to show you where your selfishness expresses itself, and ask Him to help you get beyond yourself. Where can you give your life away this week for Jesus and others? Share your thoughts. See comments below, and add your own.
The Next ‘Yes’
Ministry can be overwhelming at times. There is no possible way that I can get everything done that needs to be done. I may not be able to do everything, but I can always do the next thing that Jesus asks of me.In Mark 1:17 Jesus said to the disciples, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men” (NKJV). What if Jesus had shown the disciples everything that would be asked of them from that point on? They probably would have said, “No thanks!” Well, Jesus didn't, and the disciples left everything and immediately followed Him. Their answer of “yes” would lead to a lifetime of following Jesus into amazing opportunities. Recently, our oldest son was overwhelmed with his list of things to do and pay for. School and truck repairs topped a list that ran several items deep. When he came to us for advice, we simply reminded him that, because he had already put God first, he needed to prioritize and just take care of the next thing on the list. Eventually, he was able to take care of everything needed. Similarly, in life and ministry, I often have to remind myself that I'm not overwhelmed by circumstances; I am actually underwhelmed with how awesome God is. He really is so much more wonderful than we can imagine. How can I be awestruck by anything else? What I need is to be like the disciples and follow Him in whatever He asks next. For the past three years, our church has been heavily involved with helping establish a national Foursquare work in Niger. This is a 96 percent Muslim country that is consistently on the bottom of the Human Development Index. We come up against every imaginable need there is, many at the same time. It can be staggering, but, as Jesus leads and we follow, we have seen God move supernaturally and His kingdom extend so beautifully in this desert land. There are 18 million people in Niger, and most of them have never heard the gospel. Instead of being paralyzed by this and not knowing what do, we just ask Jesus to show us the next thing on His list. A good friend once told me, “Scott, when you don't know what to do, do what you know to do.” This to me means to humble myself, pray and listen for the Master’s next question. He is always faithful to His Word. He can be trusted in every situation. As we follow, He is making us to become what He has called and commissioned us to be. Take a moment right now to prayerfully commit to follow Him no matter what. Then ask Jesus what He wants you to do next. Prayer Point Please pray for Niger. No matter how desperate things look on the surface, the single greatest need there, and everywhere, is still the gospel. Pray that our leaders there will follow Jesus in all things. And please pray that you also will be able to follow Jesus to the next “yes.” Share your thoughts. See comments below, and add your own.
In Jesus, we see an example of a teacher who formed disciples with His teachings, with a conduct and morality that reflected the will of the Father.In John 19:28-30, we see the culmination of Jesus’ earthly ministry. These verses remind us that He knew His mission here on Earth and the times He was living in as He worked to accomplish them. He came to Earth to fulfill the will of the Father. He did this throughout His life and up until the cross. He lived for 33 years doing the will of the Father. For approximately 30 years, He lived in anonymity as a carpenter, son and citizen. For three years He made Himself known to people as the promised Messiah. While on the cross, some of His last words were: “It is finished!” (John 19:30, NKJV). When He uttered these words, He was making it known that the prophecies regarding His person and ministry had been fulfilled. He had finished all the work He had been assigned to here on Earth by the Father. Jesus’ life left us a lesson, as disciples of Him and as ministers of the Word. He could make disciples that would give testimony about the resurrected Messiah because He finished all the Father placed in His hands to do. Jesus didn’t just teach His disciples about Himself as the Son of God who was focused on preaching and teaching Christian doctrine. He also taught with His entire person, His humanity, without sin. He left behind a life example for us to pursue commitment to our fellow man, our family, friends and the government. This is a challenge primarily for those of us who have ministerial responsibilities and who lead people. If we are alive today, it’s not only to fulfill a ministry task within the congregation; we are alive to fulfill “everything” God has placed under our responsibility. A few weeks ago, we were able to enjoy a few days of rest with family, far from the city and our commitments. During that time, I understood that that rest and my family were also part of God’s plan for my life. There is no point in achieving our ministry goals and personal successes if we leave unresolved matters in our lives. Our disciples will be watching not only the sermons we preach or the reflections we write, but rather how we conduct ourselves in all areas of our personal lives. As true disciples of Jesus, we are called to form others in the character of Christ and to be able to declare at a certain moment of our lives: “It is finished in me.” The apostle Paul said something similar when he wrote in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." From this we can understand that he left nothing unresolved in his life, or anything unfinished or halfway done. Paul would have been able to say “mission accomplished,” just as Christ could have. Our intentions should be to fulfill God’s will in every area of our lives—that means in our lives as spouses, children, citizens, professionals and, without a doubt, as servant-leaders led by our great Teacher. Prayer Points Pray for discernment to see if you have an unattended area—or an area at risk of being unattended—in your personal life. Ask the Lord to help you satisfactorily fulfill every assumed commitment with family, work, friendships, etc. Give thanks to God in prayer for the opportunity to impact other people’s lives as you follow Jesus’ example. Share your thoughts. See comments below, and add your own. Misión CumplidaEn Jesús vemos el ejemplo de vida de un maestro que formó discípulos con enseñanzas verbales, pero sobre todo con una conducta de vida y una moral que reflejaban la voluntad del Padre. Hugo Pera Nuñez En el texto de Juan 19:28, 30 vemos a Jesús en la culminación de su ministerio terrenal. Estos versículos nos recuerdan que él conocía su misión en la tierra y los tiempos que vivía para el cumplimiento de los mismos. Vino al mundo a cumplir con la voluntad del Padre, lo hizo durante toda su vida y hasta la cruz. Vivió 33 años haciendo la voluntad del Padre; 30 años aproximadamente en el anonimato, como un trabajador, hijo, ciudadano, etc. Tomó 3 años dándose a conocer a propios y extraños como el mesías prometido. Estando en la cruz, una de sus últimas frases fue: “Consumado es…” (Todo está cumplido – Juan 19:30 NTV). Cuando expresó estas palabras estaba dando a entender que las profecías se habían cumplido acerca de su persona y ministerio. Él había completado “toda” la obra que el Padre le había asignado en la tierra. Su vida nos deja una lección, como discípulos de Jesucristo y como ministros de la palabra. Él pudo formar discípulos que dieran un testimonio de vida acerca del mesías resucitado, porque hizo “todo” lo que el Padre puso en sus manos para hacer. Jesús no enseño a sus discípulos sólo el perfil de mesías o Hijo de Dios enfocado a la predicación y enseñanza de la doctrina cristiana, sino que más bien enseñó con toda su personalidad, su humanidad sin pecado, dejándoles un modelo de vida a seguir, de compromiso con el prójimo, la familia, los amigos, el gobierno, etc. Esto es un desafío principalmente para quienes tenemos responsabilidades ministeriales y lideramos personas. Si hoy tenemos vida, no es sólo para cumplir con una tarea ministerial o dentro de la congregación, sino que tenemos vida para cumplir “todo” lo que Dios puso bajo nuestra responsabilidad. Hace unas semanas pudimos disfrutar de unos días de descanso en familia, lejos de nuestra ciudad y compromisos. En ese tiempo pude comprender que también ese descanso y mi familia eran parte del plan de Dios para mi vida. De nada nos sirve alcanzar metas ministeriales y éxitos personales, si dejamos “pendientes” en nuestra vida. Nuestros discípulos estarán observando no sólo los sermones que predicamos o las reflexiones que escribimos, sino más bien como nos conducimos en nuestra vida personal, familiar, financiera, moral, etc. Como verdaderos discípulos de Jesús estamos llamados a poder formar a otros, con el carácter de Cristo, y poder declarar en determinado momento de nuestras vidas…” Todo se ha cumplido en mí…”. El apóstol Pablo pudo decir algo parecido cuando escribió 2 Timoteo 4:7-8 “He peleado la buena batalla, he terminado la carrera, me he mantenido en la fe.” (NVI). Por su expresión podemos entender que no dejó nada pendiente en su vida o algo sin terminar o hecho a medias, más bien pudo decir como Jesucristo “Misión Cumplida”. Pablo completó todo lo que el Señor reclamaba de él como cristiano y como ministro y apóstol de Jesucristo. Esa debe ser nuestra intención, también, cubrir todas las áreas en nuestra vida con el cumplimiento de la voluntad de Dios. Como esposos, padres, hijos, ciudadanos, profesionales, etc. y sin duda alguna como siervos-líderes aprobados por nuestro maestro. Puntos de Oración Oremos a nuestro maestro para que nos dé el discernimiento para ver si tenemos algún área descuidado en nuestra vida personal o con riesgo de no ser bien atendido. Pidamos para que el Señor nos ayude a cumplir satisfactoriamente con todos nuestros compromisos asumidos con él (familia, trabajo, amistades, descansos, etc). Demos gracias a Dios en oración por la oportunidad de impactar la vida de otros con nuestra vida que sigue el ejemplo de Jesús. Comparta sus pensamientos. Vea los comentarios a continuación y agregue los suyos.