Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Devotional

JUST STEP OUT!

Rev. Charles R. Ramsey Jr.,
Senior Pastor
St. Luke AME Church – Cartersville, GA

Matthew 14:22-33

One of the most powerful tools of Christian living is faith. Faith is relying on and putting our trust in God’s plan for our lives. Faith is the power to believe when it seems that the odds are against us. As one preacher once said: “Faith is acting like it is so, even when it is not so, so that it might be so, simply because God said so.” Faith is choosing to believe what God says despite what you see, feel or think.

It is a knowing and assurance in divine interaction. Often accompanied by the challenge to move us from comfort to the uncomfortable, faith is also moving us from mediocracy to excellence even beyond our imaginations.

 The text describes Peter stepping out of a boat onto water to walk in response to a bid by Jesus to experience the extraordinary. It would have been safe to stay in the boat. Conformity seems to be the safe place that we often prefer as we pray for the Lord to do something spectacular in our lives. In that moment when Peter stepped out of the boat he teaches us that the greater blessing is when we respond to the calling of Christ and dare to take action. This beckoning from Jesus was also just for Peter, no one else.

As Peter stepped out and walk towards Jesus the wind distracted him. Phenomenal experiences with Jesus will require laser sharp focus on him and not the obstacles in our lives. In other words, when moving to a new level in faith our obstacles are merely a platform for the unusual thing that Jesus is doing in our lives.  I encourage you today to step out and stay focus, with faith, on God’s beckoning to participate in the extraordinary.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for allowing me to walk with You in an extraordinary journey by faith. Amen.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Devotional

BUT WAIT…THERE’S MORE!

Rev. Jeffery B. Cooper II

Joshua 13:1

Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the LORD said unto him, You are old and stricken in years, and there remains yet very much land to be possessed.

I am often intrigued by television infomercials and the various strategies they employ to persuade us to purchase certain items. One tactic I find particularly intriguing is when, after recounting all the wonderful qualities of a product, the announcer emphatically shouts, “But wait…there’s more!” It suggests that if you thought the product was good before, you will be thrilled with what is yet to be revealed.

In the above passage, God reminds Joshua that while the Israelites had entered the land of Canaan, they only possessed a portion of the land which God had promised them. There was still “very much land” that remained. In essence, God was reminding Joshua that there was “more” which He desired for His people. Too often we experience only a small portion of the blessing God desires to bestow upon our lives. We settle for good enough when God desires to give us more than enough. We forfeit many of God’s promises because we stop too soon, we get tired, we become discouraged, or we simply feel comfortable with well enough. As a result, we experience less than God’s fully intended blessings in our lives. We justify complacency with words such as humility, moderation, and contentment. And while these are noble and just values, they often mask an underlying sentiment of self-satisfaction. But this text reminds us that there is much more that God wants to do in and through our lives.

Thus God urges Joshua, in his old age, to continue the mission, to conquer the remaining lands, and to experience the fullness of God’s blessings and promise. He instructs Joshua first, however, to divide the land among the various tribes of Israel. This act of dividing the land, prior to conquering the land, demonstrates the type of faith necessary for experiencing the fullness of God’s blessings. Although the process would require many battles and conflicts, God reassures Joshua that He would drive out the lands inhabitants and give the land to Israel as an inheritance. We too must have faith in God’s ability to do more in our lives than we can ask or imagine. Sure, getting there won’t necessarily be fast or easy, but it will always be worth it. Then we can move from Joshua 13:1 to Joshua 21:43, “Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there.” Pray today that God will reveal the more He has in store for your life. Commit yourself to walking in the fullness of His will for your life. When we yield our minds, bodies, and souls to God’s full and perfect will, we can rest assured that God will fulfill his promises. Whether you are at the apex of your life or find yourself in a valley moment, whether you are young or old, rich or poor, no matter your station in life, God has MORE in store for you! More joy, more peace, more victory, more opportunity, and more blessings are waiting for you. There is still “very much” MORE yet in store for you!

 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Devotional

I Am A Nets Fan

Rev. Christopher Burnett

John 21:11

So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.

I love seeing people operate in their gifting. Greatness inspires me. An uncontrollable smile paralyzes my face as I watch people do things that nobody can do quite like them. Their passion, energy, and soul spark an awe-inspiring vision and it is clear – they are operating in their gifting.

Nets have the incredible ability to catch whatever comes in their vicinity. Nets are extremely gifted at catching.

While this story is often framed in ways that promote reflection on the consequences of what happens when one reverts to their old ways and runs from their calling, it also speaks to the awesomeness of the Lord. Despite our failures, disobedience, and self-inflicted seasons of emptiness, the Lord presents us with opportunities to receive abundant blessings that we don’t have room enough to receive which overflow into the lives of those attached to us.

When the spotlight is put on the nets in this story we are in for a powerful lesson. Of all the roles one can identify with, we are probably most like the nets. Nets are referred to twelve times in the New Testament. When referenced, unfortunately, the nets are either forsaken, left alone or behind, being mended because they have gotten caught up on something that has torn its fibers and caused it to start falling apart, or they are being washed because they are full of trash. The net referenced in John 21, however, is the only net that is not empty, in need of mending, tearing under pressure, or being washed because of the debris that has entangled it.

Lesson: we can’t let what has happened, what is happening or what is going to happen deter us from operating in our gifting.  From the time Jesus called Peter and Andrew, these nets had a destiny and purpose. However, there was a process they had to endure.

The first time we encounter the nets actually catching fish, they have caught so much that they began to tear. Some of us have had seasons of success and found out that sometimes success can break you and cause you to unravel. Some of us have had dry seasons where it seems as though we are continuously coming up empty. Some of us have been torn, broken, and have found ourselves in need of mending – emotionally, financially, physically and spiritually.

However, if we will declare and decree that we will endure and never forsake our gifting – there is a season coming that will encompass our biggest catch. In this season coming, for those willing to endure, you won’t tear under pressure but become part of another awesome story of what God will do through those who stay true to their gifting.

I’m a nets fan! Operate in your gifting and never forget, no matter what, you have someone cheering you on. Your biggest catch is still on the way, be encouraged. You weren’t called to be successful, you were called to be faithful!

Dear Lord, confirm my gifting today and prepare me for my biggest catch, Amen!