Day 21, “The Kingdom Belongs to Such as These”
Last Sunday, there were 23 or so little children that stood up front and sang about sharing with others. After the service, the children shared a kiss with all who would receive it, a “Hershey’s” kiss.
One little one was too nervous to go up with rest, so she watched from the front row. After the children came down, she stood and said, “My turn.”
We are blessed here at DCC to have so many “little ones.” … How thankful I am for those who take a turn in the nursery during worship and Sunday School. … How grateful I am for all our Sunday School teachers and youth group leaders. … How much I appreciate all those who participate in “Adopt-A-Kid-For-Prayer. … Everyone who reads this today, can “adopt” Jessica, and pray for her as she is having surgery.
As we count our blessings today, remember to add the six new little ones we are expecting this year. And pray for the parents, and thank God they are a part of DCC.
Steve @ DCC
Day 20, "Signs of His Pleasure"
I am glad David and Kim put this devotion in their book. Over the course of reading it we may have started to develop an entirely negative view of the horizontal, but that's not entirely accurate. We still have to do the horizontal things, at least some of them, but need to do so with our mind on the vertical implications.
We could talk about baptism all day, and there would be many different voices heard even within our own congregation I am sure! But the devotion this morning isn't a theological treatise on the nature, power, and implications of baptism. David points out that we should look for signs of God's pleasure when we do that which pleases him. I agree, but I also want to balance that view with a warning.
7 “Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’?8 Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly,and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’?9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We areunworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”
My point is that we should not expect and special recognition for doing what we have already been commanded to do. Living in accordance with the teachings of Jesus isn't something something that we get extra credit for, it's what he requires of us. On the other hand, our God is a loving Father, and good parent doesn't like to spoil their kids when they do something good, even if they had to be told to do it? Look for signs of God's approval, but also be content knowing that your Father in Heaven is pleased with your obedience.
Day 19, “Who Do You Spend Time With?”
Our Scripture text for today points out Jesus never hesitated to sit down to eat with sinners. He took the initiative in seeking them out. He accepted them as friends, and chose to have close fellowship with them. His response to outcasts provided a new and revolutionary model for both religious and social behavior. … And sadly, it might still be new and revolutionary in our own culture.
There is a lesson in this for us. We do not shut ourselves up in Christianized communities. Rather we seek to befriend the ungodly in order to introduce them to our Lord and Savior.
In befriending sinners, we do not do anything that would compromise our testimony, nor allow the unsaved to drag us down to their level. We take the initiative in guiding the friendship into positive channels of spiritual helpfulness. It is easier to isolate oneself from the wicked world, but Jesus didn’t do it, and neither do His followers.
Steve @ DCC
Day 18, "Praying What God Wants to Answer"
Often times, I think that when we pray something like this, we say our prayer and think our responsibility ends there. Right after Jesus commanded his disciples to pray for the Lord to send out workers for the harvest, do you know what happened next? Jesus sent out the twelve into the towns of Israel in order to prepare the way. They were to preach and to heal, going about with the full authority that Jesus gave them.
When we pray something, especially something that we know is in line with the will of God, we better be prepared to be the answer to that prayer. If we pray for God to provide the homeless with shelter on a cold winter night, we better be prepared to find some way to provide that shelter for them ourselves if they show up on our doorstep. If we pray for the hungry to be filled, we better be prepared to give out food. When we pray for God's will to be done, we ought to be prepared to be the instruments of God in fulfilling that very prayer.
Mike @ DCC
Day 17, “The Upside Down Kingdom”
To deny oneself is not a call to self-rejection, or self-hatred. Rather, it is to replace the desires of self with the will of God, to set aside personal rights and live for the glory of God and the mission of extending His kingdom.
Jesus challenges His listeners to think of long-term effects of their daily choices. Everyone either lives for self, or lives for God. While living for self will have certain benefits, none come close to eternal life with a loving God. And so, Jesus puts His hearers to a fourfold test.
First, what are your present motives? Do you deny the desires for immediate and selfish gratification in order to take up your cross and follow Christ?
Second, what are your future aims? Are you working to avoid death or willing to lose your life for the sake of Christ and the gospel?
Third, where are your eternal values? Is economic success the priority of your life or are you putting the premium upon the worth of the soul?
Fourth, what is your ultimate goal? Is it limited to the horizontal, to earthly status? Or is it vertical, toward the chief end of glorifying God?
Steve @ DCC
Day 16, “Filling the Jars”
The story of changing water to wine is a familiar one. But like many of you, I think I’ve often focused on Jesus and the miracle, not the servants who must have scratched their heads wondering what Jesus was up to. This subject really hit me between the eyes. I can become very horizontal in my life. I embrace order, routine and stability.
Don’t get me wrong, I really try and work to include God in that sense of order, however; at times God reminds me that I need to break from this as he wants to stretch me vertically. God has caused me to move, when I really wanted to stay put, He has put me in positions of responsibility, when I was content doing the same things for Him.
God’s challenge to me has become, “When I am comfortable, listen for His voice”. For the servants, the filling and maintaining of the water jars was their job and I’m sure they performed well. But Jesus wanted to do something else, something more. So now, my prayer should turn upwards to God. Dare I ask Him to shake me from my routine, do something that stretches my faith vertically, and in the process draws me nearer? … No time like now to break routine.
Cary Howie @ DCC
Day 15, “Whoever Does God’s Will”
After reading this devotion, my first thought went to a scripture that I felt was pretty harsh when I read it years ago: Luke 9:57-62. You can look it up, but the gist is, Jesus was calling some new followers, but one wants to bury his father first and the other wants to say goodbye to his family. The text doesn’t tell us why the potential followers felt so strongly about their families that they couldn’t commit their lives to Christ right then. Jesus’ response to let the dead bury their own dead and to not look back after you commit to him may seem tough, but Jesus had a vertical perspective while the followers had a horizontal one.
When Derek and Camryn were little, we attended my home church in Surprise. Twenty people were considered a good attendance with ½ of those being family members. While I knew our family needed to be in a growing church with a functioning youth program, my horizontal viewpoint kept us from making the tough decision to leave. Standing in front of that group was one of the hardest things we did. But after much prayer and consideration, God opened my eyes to the vertical commitment our family needed to make and our decision was met with love and understanding by our church family.
Placing our membership at Driftwood a year or two after attending was another tough choice. I somehow felt I was letting my family down by choosing membership in another community of believers. Again, after much prayer and thought, I realized that God had brought us to DCC and by choosing to be part of a loving, caring, encouraging, and bible following spiritual family, it did not diminish my heritage and faith that I had relied on to that point. While I still love my home church and family, I am so thankful we chose the vertical. What about you, is there something in your life keeping you horizontal?
Troy Thompson @ DCC
Day 14, "Where Shall We Buy Bread?"
An alternative view to that presented by David is that the crowd wanted to make Jesus king not because they were thinking about their next meal, but because they had recognized that he could very well be the Messiah and the Messiah was, in the eyes of many, suppose to be an authoritative figurehead who would overthrow the reigning empire and reestablish the throne of David. The Messiah was supposed to be a military and political savior. That's not why Jesus came, and it wouldn't have been in anyone's best interest for a Jewish Revolution to start right then and there. That would happen soon enough and result in Jerusalem being burned to the ground. Jesus wasn't looking for a temporary, horizontal kingdom. He was looking to the future for an eternal, vertical kingdom.
Regardless of their exact motivation for wanting to make Jesus king, they desire was driven by horizontal wants and needs. All too often I think we look at our savior the same way. God, I need this. God, please do that. We often seek God out of selfish wants and desires. I think we would do well to remember the "Your will be done" portion of the Lord's prayer. God has plans that are so much bigger than whatever needs we think we have.
Mike @ DCC
Day 13, “Watchful Waiting”
Commenting on the reading in Mark 13:32-37, our author writes at the end of the third paragraph after the Scripture reading:
This period of watchful waiting is a time to finish the tasks given, but especially a time for paying attention to their Master’s possible return.
There is a balance to be maintained. Some people use the “Coming Again” of our Lord and Savior as an excuse to stop every horizontal activity and focus only on the vertical. Paul dealt with this situation in his second letter to the Thessalonians.
2 Thessalonians was written “to correct a misunderstanding concerning the Lord’s return and to exhort the Thessalonian believers to be steadfast and to work for a living.” There were some who quit their jobs and were counting on others to feed and care for them until the Lord returned. Paul said, in 2 Thessalonians 3:10b, If a man will not work, he shall not eat.
The last paragraph, before the exercises of today’s reading, captures the correct balance; vertical, then horizontal.
Are you praying for the Lord’s return? It is one of the best ways we know to keep watch. The prayer of the early Church was, “Come soon, Lord Jesus!” Daily prayer for the coming of Jesus will keep you on your watch and encourage you to finish the tasks He has given you to do.
Steve @ DCC
Day 12, "Search Me, Oh God!"
"If you are like us, we can both recall times in our lives when we have done or said "good things" not because of the call of Christ, but to be liked or well thought of."
This is exactly the kind of situation I found myself in as junior in high-school at a CIY event at Anderson University. I grew up a Christian raised by Christians who were raised by Christians that grew up in Christian homes (and so on and so forth). It was that night I realized that I wasn't sure if I had been living a Christian life because it was what I really believed or because it was expected of me. Most of my young life I was trying to live up to expectations, and most of the time I did so. But now I had to make a decision. Was this MY faith of was it my parents' faith. Reflecting on that question, as any serious teenager would, I realized that it really was my own faith and from that point on I was going to have to live that way. I couldn't just keep up a good appearance of being a Christian, I had to actually be one.
Some of us are masters of keeping up a good appearance. But we can be selfish even in our generosity. While those around us may not be able to search our hearts and motives, the Lord above sees through it all and will judge us not only for what is said and done but for the conditions of our hearts as well.
Mike @ DCC