Devotions

Devotions

 

Memory Verse of The Week

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV)


Monday

Jesus First

Kendra Intihar

Today’s Scripture: “That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3, ESV)

Theme: Fellowship starts with your relationship with Jesus.

SOLA SCRIPTURA?

A couple of days ago, I found myself wondering what my interpretation of Scripture would be like if I were picking up the Bible for the very first time, reading it with fresh eyes, and without thousands of years of other people’s interpretations. What would it be like to discover Scripture with no preconceptions? The fact of the matter is that we can profess “Sola Scriptura,” the idea that our faith should be informed only by the words in Scripture, but the reality is that our faith is informed by every article we read, every pastor under whose teaching we sit, and every childhood Sunday School lesson. Our environment, our family of origin, and even the country we’re born in all bleed into our interpretation of the Bible, which makes it all the more important that we ask God for wisdom and discernment as we spend time in the Word, allowing it to challenge us and help us grow.

THE WORD IS LIVING AND ACTIVE

Have you ever felt convinced that you understood a verse or passage of scripture, and then you heard someone talk about that same verse or passage in a way that made you raise an eyebrow? Maybe they interpreted it differently; maybe they pulled it out of context; or maybe they used contextual information to illuminate it in a new way for you. This has happened to me countless times over the course of my faith journey. Just when I think I understand a verse or passage, or something about the nature of God, someone else comes along and shines a big, bright, “aha” spotlight on it for me. They make me think critically about the passage, and its brand new again. Often, it’s when I’m in my quiet time reading my Bible in light of the world around me that I see the Word in a brand-new way.

FELLOWSHIP SEEKS JESUS FIRST

If fellowship is an admonition in the Bible, (and it is—see 1 Peter 3:8), then we must acknowledge that our fellow believers are coming at their faith from all sorts of different places and paths, just like we are. Our origin stories matter. But when it comes to being united in our faith, what matters most is Jesus. Our fellowship with one another begins with our relationship with Him. When we truly see ourselves as disciples of Christ, then the ideologies, structures, and kingdoms of this world become mere dross. Unity in the church doesn’t look like every believer thinking, acting, dressing, speaking, or voting alike. Unity in the church means that the body of believers is, in humility, pursuing the heart of Christ.

Make it Personal: This week, lay down your right to be right and simply spend time with Jesus. Seek to follow Him, to model your life after Him, and to honor Him. Watch your relationships with other believers change as you focus on your relationship with Jesus.

Pray: Father God, be lifted to the highest place in my life. Help me to recognize, down to my marrow, that the unstable structures of this world are nothing compared to knowing and being known by You. Let my words and actions drip with honey-like grace for your children, and let “the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight” so that I can grow in deep fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. In His Name I pray. Amen.

Weekly Memory Verse: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV)


Read: 1 John 4:19-21; Hebrews 4:12; Colossians 2:6-7
Tuesday

Better Together

Sarah Madding

Today’s Scripture: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV)

Theme: Fellowship helps you to be encouraged and encourage others.

SOLITARY

How do you feel about meeting together? There are so many mixed feelings about it. It’s almost as heated a topic as face masks and politics. Corona virus aside, there are still so many reasons people either avoid or crave meeting together. As an introvert, I truly enjoyed being quarantined. Still, it didn’t take long to learn that although I crave some solitary time, it isn’t healthy for me to consistently neglect my relationships.

MADE FOR COMPANIONSHIP

Why do we need to spend quality time with other believers? Well, if you have ever tried to change your diet, start exercising, or begin budgeting, you know how important it is to have a team of friends spurring you on and encouraging your efforts. Trying to follow the example of Jesus and working to live in a way that pleases God is hard. It is countercultural. To take every thought captive, to walk justly, to act mercifully, and to spend time developing your relationship with God takes real effort. To be successful, we need a team of like-minded friends behind us and encouraging us.

Hebrews 10:24 says that we should “stir one another to love and good works.” I love that imagery. A pot that isn’t stirred grows stagnant. As it cooks, some areas will burn while others will grow cold. Yet if you stir it, you bring the areas from the bottom up and everything becomes evenly heated. In the same way, we need each other. We need to be encouraged. We need to heat up each other’s passion for God. We need to stir each other up to keep from either burn out or stagnant faith. Encouraging each other give us a purpose.

GOD’S PLAN

God knows that we generally resist doing most things that are good for us. In Hebrews 10:25, we are warned not to neglect meeting together. Even though we need our team of encouragers and we need people to stir us up, we get tired. Maybe you are tired of the effort it takes to go out. Maybe you’ve just gotten use to a new schedule or a new way to spend your weekends. Maybe you are just tired of dealing with other humans who have needs and drama of their own.

No matter how tired you are, I encourage you to start meeting together again. Tune into the messages online with a small group of friends, join a Life Group, or meet on Sundays in person. Stop and pray right now for God to bring other believers into your life who you can share you struggles with and who you can mutually encourage. Ask God how and where He wants you to plug in. And remember that when we meet together before God, His presence is there. No matter how nice the couch is, sitting before the throne of God, surrounded by believers, is always better.

Make it Personal: Have you developed new rhythms that don’t include gathering together? Renew the habit of meeting for worship, the teaching of the Word, and fellowship. When you gather regularly, even with just your family, you are placing a priority on meeting with God and remembering His gift of salvation. If you are comfortable meeting outside, gather with the body of Christ. Or invite some friends you are already socializing with and watch a service together.

Pray: God, renew in me a desire to be in Your presence and with Your people. Help me find a way to return and make worship a part of my “new normal.” It’s been so easy to fit You in around my wants and plans; now I want to honor and prioritize You first. Give me strength to lead my family or invite my friends. God, I ask that You meet me there and show me Your glory. In Jesus’ Name I pray.

Weekly Memory Verse: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV)


Read: Psalm 122:1, 16:11; Acts 2:42-44
Wednesday

A Pleasing Sound

Kendra Intihar

Today’s Scripture: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17, ESV)

Theme: Fellowship helps you sharpen one another.

THE CHROMATIC SCALE AND JESUS

Last week, when I was picking my son up from his (masked and appropriately socially distanced) rock band class, his keyboarding instructor pointed out to me how cool it is that there are twelve notes in the chromatic scale – all the black and white keys in one octave – and that there were twelve disciples of Christ. He made the important inference that this was not by accident. Twelve was the right number for Jesus, and twelve is the perfect musical number.

I have sat with this, pondering it, all week. Twelve notes. Twelve disciples. Both are a community of twelve that can work together to create something beautiful (or compete to make something cacophonous and horrible). The Bible talks about making melodies to the Lord, praising Him with instruments, singing songs to Him: music must matter so much to the Father if He has breathed it into Scripture and woven deeply into the fabric of every culture in this world.

But one solitary note, played without the concurrence of other notes, would be disappointing. Imagine pressing one key over. And over. And over. No – we need more than one key to make music that works. It’s the combination of the keys that causes tunefulness.

COMMUNITY IS A SONG

This analogy makes me think of my Life Group. Life Groups at The Cove are designed to be twelve people on purpose. Some have a few more, some have a few less, but “approximately twelve” seems to be the sweet spot. The women in my Life Group are the notes that play alongside me, sweetening my song to the Lord. They love me, they correct me, they celebrate with me, they let me lean on them, and they lean on me. These women are the perfect juxtaposition of friendship and accountability in my life, and I know that our purpose, in Christ, is to encourage one another to be more and more like Jesus. They are the other notes that make my lonely note sound like music. We were created for community.

Make It Personal: The writer of Hebrews encourages us to “let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (10:24). Who are you encouraging? Who is helping you with accountability in your life? If you do not currently have a community – or more importantly, a community of believers – in your life, that’s your next step. Have you been looking for a sign? This is it: join a Life Group and build a community of believers that can come alongside you and encourage your walk with Christ.

Pray: Lord, You created me for community. You made me to love and be loved by others: it’s one of the ways You show me that I am Your beloved. Father, help me to be an active participant in fellowshipping with other believers. Soften my heart to hear the right rebukes of faithful friends and let me be the kind of friend who loves and encourages others in You. I pray these things in Your name. Amen.

Weekly Memory Verse: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV)


Read: Proverbs 27:17, 27:9; Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Thursday

Just Say It

Carey Madding

Today’s Scripture: “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.” (James 5:16, ESV)

Theme: Fellowship helps you to stay accountable to each other.

SHHHHHH!

Have you ever had a secret that was delicious? So exciting that you were bursting to let it out? In sixth grade, one of my best friends discovered she was getting a new baby at home. She was only allowed to tell two friends, but they must not tell anyone. I thought I would die with this precious and wonderful secret but was determined not to betray her trust in me (though I was a regular blabber mouth). I kept my promise, but on the appointed day, I held my hand up in class and blurted: “Holly has an announcement!” And though she was a bit shy, that’s how she told the whole class.

SECRETS WANT OUT

Good secrets want to be let out. Bad secrets want to be kept hidden. Either way, they burn. There is fear of discovery in hiding a sin. There is dread before revealing an unpopular decision. Hidden bitterness or anger taints your days and emotions with angst and unease. But God did not intend for you to carry these secrets and burdens alone. First and foremost, He is there and encourages you to come, “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7, ESV).

CARRY ONE ANOTHER

God has another remedy: His presence here with us in the form of other believers. As an aid to our faith, He encourages us to confess our sins to our faithful friends. Our sins, burdens, or temptations are eased when we release them out loud, confessing and repenting, and asking for prayer support. The bondage of sin is broken when it is revealed and seen in the light of truth. There is supernatural healing in the spoken confession and in the asking for prayer.

Additionally, the encouragement and “stirring up to good works” continues past the time of confession. But believer, we are responsible for our non-judgmental, deliberate help to that confessing sinner. “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2, NIV).

Make It Personal: Is there some hidden sin or burden (that shopping receipt, that relationship, that bitterness) that keeps you up at night? Is there something which causes anger or distrust at uncalled for times? Remember, “We’re only as sick as our secrets.” Seek out the root. Confess it to God. Ask Him if you need to share with a friend and then speak your repentance out loud to them. Declaring your new intentions is often the first step in healing.

Pray: Dear Father, reveal in me the underlying sin that is causing my mental and physical unease. Help me see it for what it is: sin. I am sorry for the distance it has placed between us. Help me to turn from it, confess, and repent to You, my God. Give me a friend who knows You, and who will comfort and pray for me. Give me boldness to confess that I need help, I need prayer, and I cannot do it alone. Thank you, God, for sending your Holy Spirit to lead me. In Jesus’ Name I ask it. Amen.

Weekly Memory Verse: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV)


Read: Romans 10:8-10; 1 John 1:8-9; Ephesians 5:8-14
Friday

The Journey

Tiffany Haynes

Today’s Scripture: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14, ESV)

Theme: Fellowship helps you remember that you’re not alone!

ATTACKED BY A MOUNTAIN LION

On Tuesday morning my phone erupted with text messages. It was my family group chat. (We all love group chats!) My brother had sent a video that had gone viral on social media. The video featured a man on a beautiful trail in the mountains. However, his serene walk was interrupted by none other than a mountain lion! I am no zoologist, but I am pretty sure mountain lions are no house pets. The shaky video picks up where the mountain lion is charging at him as if he were lunch, and all you can see is the trees, mountain lion, and path. You hear the sheer terror of the man on the other side of the lens. As I watched with fear for the man, waiting to see what would happen next, I questioned: why was he there alone? What if instead of going alone, this man had invited someone along with him on his hike.

ALONE

Most of us, even extroverts, enjoy some alone time; alone—to think and ponder and embrace the beauty of life. However, there are places that we will travel that we are not meant to go alone. Walking out our faith can be one of those places. Struggling with burdens such as sickness is much harder alone. Overcoming sin is much more difficult when it’s just you against temptation.

WANDERING TOGETHER

Wandering is defined as traveling aimlessly from place to place, without a plan or specific goal. It’s difficult to go it alone, with no one to discuss your concerns or next decisions. Your fellow members in the family of God don’t necessarily have any more spiritual knowledge than you; they may not have more faith than you do. But wandering together, with someone else to question, support, and encourage your decisions is so much easier than being a lone traveler. A companion reminds you of the Way; a companion reminds you of the presence of God, for when just two or three gather and pray, God has promised to be there.

Make It Personal: Where are you struggling today? Does anyone know of your hurts or concerns? Have you shared with a faithful friend, so that you can be supported and prayed for as you walk this path? Ask God to reveal a faithful friend. Ask for the courage to find a Life Group or invite someone into you journey.

Pray: Dear Father, I know I have a relationship with You. But I need help to remember that You are with me. I need those two or three who will walk beside me and redirect me into Your Presence. Would you bring to my mind the person You would have me invite along my journey? Would you stir our hearts to a supernatural friendship, based on our love for You? Thank you for providing for my needs in this area. I love You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Weekly Memory Verse: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV)


Read: Galatians 5:13; John 13:34-35; Romans 12:4-5, 15

 

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