Big Idea: God calls his people to be noticeably different.
Matthew 5.13a, 14a (CSB): You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.
Devotion: I cooked Crawfish Stew a few months ago. I had gathered everything I needed to prepare the meal and started by boiling the potatoes in crab boil. I normally use the liquid crab boil (it has a lower salt content) rather than the mix, but I didn’t use the liquid boil this particular day. I didn’t think anything about it and loaded down the water with the mix. I then saved some of the water to use as stock for the stew. When I got ready to eat the stew, I was excited. However, to my disappointment, the stew was horrible! It was extremely salty. So salty that it wasn’t edible.
Salt can save a meal and it can ruin a meal. When used correctly, salt enhances the flavor a dish. It can also preserve food and be used as fertilizer. Salt brings noticeable change and enhances the things it touches. In the same way, light also brings noticeable change. Flip the lights on in a dark room and the room is no longer dark.
Jesus told us that we are to bring change to the situations we find ourselves in. He told us that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. We are to influence people and situations by bringing the transforming power of the Gospel with us. Today’s passage isn’t just a catch phrase we use from time to time. Rather, it’s a life changing truth that affects how we live out the Gospel. Be salt and be light...be noticeably different for the sake of the Kingdom.
-How would you explain today’s verses in your own words to a friend?
-In what ways can you influence those in your life for the Kingdom?
-Pray and ask God to show you how to be salt and light in your life.
Salt and light speak of the influence Christians can exercise for good in society. --Billy Graham
Big Idea: Use your time to make a Kingdom impact.
Ephesians 5.16 (CSB): Making the most of the time, because the days are evil.
What are some things that you like to do for fun? Personally, I like to fish, shoot, play video games, and hang out with friends. While I like to relax and have fun, I also want to make the most of my time; I don’t want to waste it.
I don’t want to waste my time by missing ministry opportunities. For example, I was playing PS4 online a few months ago and met a guy named Ricky. As he and I talked, I was able to share the Gospel with him. We hit it off and eventually, I played with his other friends and shared the Gospel with them, too. These guys are all over the US and have now all heard the Gospel. I am using my hobbies as a way to build relationships and share the Gospel with others.
I’m certain that you have hobbies that bring you in contact with other people. You can use your hobbies as a tool to build relationships with others as you seek to share the Gospel. Make the most of your time and the hobbies that you have. Don’t waste it—redeem it.
During this season, there are still opportunities to put your hobbies to work. Use your video games to build relationships. Use video chatting apps to host a game night with friends. You might be surprised at the opportunities that God puts before you.
-What are some of your hobbies and how can you include others?
-Have you ever thought about the possibility of using your hobbies as a way to share the Gospel with people? Why or why not?
-Pray and ask God to show you ways that you can use your hobbies for Kingdom purposes.
The truest lengthening of life is to live while we live, wasting no time, but using every hour for the highest ends. So be it this day. —C. H. Spurgeon
Big Idea: Imitate God in all areas of your life.
Ephesians 5.1 (CSB): Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children.
Devotion: We often ask little kids what they want to be when they grow up. It’s a valid question. As a little kid, I wanted to be a meteorologist. I thought that forecasting the weather was the neatest thing since sliced bread. As I got older, I discovered that my character was more important than what I did. I have met men and women of faith that I absolutely admire. I recently told one friend that I would be lucky if I grew up to be half the man he is.
It is good to find qualities in others that we wish to imitate. But even more than that, it is exceptionally good and right to imitate God. We should have a desire to become more like God with each passing day. This does not mean, as some have pointed out, that we can imitate God in his power, knowledge, or presence. But we can imitate God in self-sacrifice and forgiveness.
Notice today’s verse. We are told to imitate God as “dearly loved children.” I often imagine us imitating God as a little boy who wants to follow his dad on a beach by stepping in the footprints of his dad. While the boy can’t always take each step exactly like his dad, he never gives up—he keeps trying.
So, imitate God today as you interact with others and accomplish the tasks before you.
-Who do you look up to in your life? What character traits do you find desirable in them? Why?
-In what areas of your life do you need to imitate God more regularly?
-Pray and ask God to help you imitate him in all areas of your life. Ask him to work in you and through you (Philippians 2.13).
We best imitate Christ as we reflect his love, grace, and mercy.
Big Idea: Though we can't do it all, God can.
Psalm 103.14 (CSB): For he knows what we are made of, remembering that we are dust.
Devotion: I’ve been watching an old TV series called The West Wing. It’s my one of my favorites and my favorite character is President Bartlet. In an early episode, his wife reminds him that he cannot fix everything, even though he tries. In the same way, we are a great deal like Bartlet—we want to fix everything. We want everything to be just right in our life.
Unfortunately, we often discover that we can’t have everything the exact way we want it. Things get messed up, delayed, broken, and a number of other things. I’m certain that you can think of a thing or two in your life that didn’t go exactly how you wanted it to go. I am also certain that you can think of a time when tried to fix something that went wrong and it didn't work, either.
We must learn that we can’t do everything. In fact, I have to remind myself of that truth on a regular basis. However, we can be obedient to God. He knows that we can’t fix everything and he gives us the grace we need day by day.
Today’s verse reminds of that reality. It reminds us that God knows our limitations and knows that life is brief and temporary (Psalm 103.15-16). So, embrace your God-given limitations and thank him that while we can’t do everything, he can.
-In what ways are you tempted to believe that everything rests on your ability to accomplish a task?
-Is it hard for you to accept your God-given limitations? Why or why not?
-Pray and ask God to help you recognize your limitations and to trust him as he works in you and through you.
How completely satisfying to turn from our limitations to a God who has none.
1 Timothy 1.9-10 (CSB): He has saved us and called with a holy calling, not according to our own works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began. This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.
We are a performance-driven people. Here’s what I mean: We often work hoping and striving for the approval of others. However, God did not create us to be performance-driven. He created us to live securely and confidently in his presence and in Christ Jesus. Sin corrupted what God had decreed and now we’re stuck in a rat race. How do we get out? We come to Jesus and we embrace who he says we are.
Unfortunately, we often embrace what others say of us and accept the things which are not true. In 2018, I was in counseling and I began to speak about all the things that had been said to me that I had accepted as truth. It was painful (In fact, it’s painful to write this devotion). When I finished speaking, my counselor looked at me and asked: “Are those things true? Who gave them the authority to say those things?” His point was two-fold: 1) No, those things weren't true and 2) They didn’t have the authority to speak those things.
Friend, you and I don’t have to work for God’s approval. He has acted on our behalf and has spoken truth over us and into our life. Look at today’s verse. Read it carefully, and count the number of things that we have done to earn God’s approval.
I must remind myself often that I have God’s approval and love because he has saved me and called me with a holy calling. Dear friends, nobody can change the truth that God has declared. Today, embrace your identity, worth, and value in Christ.
-Are you guilty of trying to earn God’s approval? If so, how does today’s devotion challenge you?
-What things are you believing about you identity that do not align with the truth of God’s Word?
-Pray and ask God to help you embrace your identity in Christ about what you may feel about yourself.
Main Idea: God is at work shaping each believer into the image of the Lord Jesus.
Jeremiah 18.6b (CSB): Just like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand, house of Israel.
Devotion: Joe Burrow was the LSU Quarterback who helped lead LSU to win the National Championship in 2020. I found it interesting that the November 2018 game against Texas A&M ended with Burrow having an IV interested because his body had given out after the game (LSU lost; 74-72). He had given it his all. As I’ve considered today’s verse, I’ve thought about the work that Burrow put in to get to where he is.
Burrow did not experience a smooth-road to the National Championship. He experienced pain, rejection, and difficulty. In the same way, we must experience difficulty as we are prepared for great service in God’s Kingdom. Many people want God to do great things through them, but are less eager about God first doing a great work in them.
All of us are currently on the Potter’s Wheel. We are being molded and shaped into the likeness of Christ. Somedays, the experience is easier than others. However, the experience of being molded and shaped by the Potter is always the best. Yes, there are times of intense heat and pressure, but the end result is holiness and righteousness.
Jeremiah understood this. In fact, Jeremiah 18.1-12 is a picture of God’s devotion to our spiritual development and his grace for all who will turn from their sins and trust him. God is actively working to mold you and shape you into the image of our Lord. So friend, embrace it.
-On YouTube, watch “Share Faith Potter’s Hand.” Does this video help you better understand God’s role as the Potter? How so?
-How is God molding and shaping you in this season of life?
-Read Jeremiah 18.1-12. What is God’s ultimate desire for us?
You see, a potter can only mold the clay when it lies completely in his hand. It requires complete
Main Idea: We are to demonstrate real love, even in difficulty
John 15.17 (CSB): This is what I command you: Love one another.
Devotion: Answer me this: What is love? I ask because our answer matters. We live in a culture that struggles to define love. For some, love is a feeling and for others, it is a choice to sacrifice. The problem with the idea that love is a feeling is this: If you can “feel in love,” then you also stop loving when the feeling fades. The only “problem” with the idea that love “is a choice to sacrifice” is that it cuts against the grain of a self-centered culture.
The Biblical understanding of love is one of sacrifice. In the immediate context of today’s passage, Jesus is headed to the Cross and is about to be betrayed (John 18). He is continuing to teach (notice that there is very little black text in John 14-17), and specifically tells them that he has loved them as the Father has loved him (John 15.9). He even clarifies how he is going to continue to love them: “This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends” (John 15.12-13). Jesus is about to do just that...not only for them but for all who would believe in Him.
Friend, Jesus told his disciples to demonstrate love for one another by sacrificing. During this season, we are loving those around us by not doing certain things we would normally do (go to school, Church, gatherings, etc.). We are loving one another by practicing social distancing. But social distancing does not mean that we stay out of touch.
-How have you been handling this season? If its been hard, turn first to the Bible and be sure to reach out a friend.
-Who could you contact with a call or text to show that you love them?
-What are some other ways that you can apply today’s passage to your life?
Christ considers us worth his while going to a cross for because he is that good, he is that loving, he made us. —Sam Allberry
Main Idea: We are to pray for boldness in sharing the Gospel.
Ephesians 6.20b (CSB): Pray that I might be bold enough to speak about it [the Gospel] as I should.
Devotion: I have been a public speaker since elementary school. I am not the best by any stretch of the imagination, but it does come easy for me. Even so, engaging another person in a one-on-one conversation about the Gospel is daunting to me. I get nervous. What if I’m mocked, challenged, or do more damage than good? However, I find comfort in the reality that even the great missionary Paul asked that others pray that he “might be bold enough to speak about” the Gospel.
One day, I was especially convicted over the need to share the Gospel. I was going to The Fair later that day and I prayed for an opportunity to share the Gospel. When I arrived, I began to prayerfully seek one with whom I could share the Gospel with. I was nervous. I met up with some friends at the main stage and we began to shoot the bull. As we were talking, a man (Matt) who was sitting near us chimed in on the conversation. As he continued to contribute to our conversation, I discovered that he was an atheist. I was nervous about sharing with Matt. However, as I shared, it became easier. Not only did the Holy Spirit give me the words to say, he also gave me the boldness to share Jesus with my new friend.
While Matt did not accept Jesus that day, we had a good conversation, I provided some answers for him, and planted the seeds of the Gospel. My hope is that Matt with come to faith and I pray for him every time I think about him. Friend, take it from me, sharing the Gospel can be daunting, but it is one of the most enjoyable things you can do. Take heart! The Holy Spirit will give you the boldness you need to share.
-What keeps you from sharing the Gospel with your friends and family?
-How can you share the Gospel with others this coming week?
-Pray and ask God to give you the boldness to share the Gospel. Also, pray for my friend, Matt. Pray that he would be saved.
It’s not the eloquence of the preacher that saves a person...It’s the power of the Gospel.
Main Idea: Believers are to be alert as they follow Jesus and resist sin and temptation.
1 Peter 5.8 (CSB): Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.
Devotion: A few years ago, I was Geo-Caching with friends. We were in the middle of Cardiff and I was attempting to get a GPS location on the cache. I was walking along with my friends while I was also fixated on the my phone. Then, out of nowhere, a pole jumped in front of me and knocked me down. My friends helped me up...once they stopped laughing (We didn’t find the cache, either.)
As I have thought about this experience, I have thought about our spiritual walk. We know what we are pursuing (Matthew 6.33) and we know that there are difficulties along the journey (1 Peter 4.12-19). What we do not know is when the difficulties will present themselves. Therefore, we must be alert; we cannot be distracted. I would have seen the pole had I been more aware of my surroundings.
Likewise, we can “resist” the devil (1 Peter 5.9) by humbling ourselves before God (1 Peter 5.6-7) and being alert. We remain alert by minimizing distractions, reading our Bibles, praying, and doing life with other like-minded, godly people. Take Peter’s warning to heart. Be aware of the devil’s schemes.
-How do you generally handle temptation? Do you resist it or give into it?
-What are some practical ways that you can resist temptation and sin in your life?
-When we do life with other like-minded, godly people, we are held ac-countable. Do you have an accountability partner in your life? (An accountability partner is someone who holds you accountable as you walk the disciple’s journey.)
The dynamite is in place, the fuse is laid, the match is struck, you may be living high, wide, and hand-some, but he’s setting you up for a fall.
Main Idea: God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing.
Ephesians 1.7 (CSB): Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ.
Devotion: When you think of “being blessed”, what do you think about? Do you think of money? Better stuff? Fame? Or do you think about the blessings God has given us in Christ—blessings that can never be stolen? Unfortunately, many people think that we are blessed by the size of our bank account, ease of life, amount of stuff, level of fame, and other things of the like. However, God has revealed that true blessings are found in the heavenly realms. Take a moment and read Ephesians 1.1-13 and count the number of times you read “In Christ” or “In Him” (You may find other similar phrases, too.) You’ll discover that our blessings are found in Christ before they are found in bank accounts, stuff, fame, and etc.
Know that you are a greatly blessed child of God in Christ Jesus! The question becomes: “How are we blessed in Christ?” The editors of the CSB Study Bible noted of today’s verse that “these blessings include our union with Christ; being seated with him in the heavenlies; and our adoption, redemption, and election.”
Friend, regardless of what you may feel or experience in this life, the reality is that you are blessed beyond measure. You can go without the newest iPhone, PS4/XBOX, Nike tennis shoes, and more. But you cannot go without the blessings that are found in Christ Jesus.
-How do you define “being blessed?”
-Do you consider yourself to be blessed? Why or why not?
-Do you agree that we “cannot go without the blessings that are found in Christ”? Why or why not?
-Pray and ask God to help you recognize the blessings that you have been given in Christ.
Every hour of every day God is richly blessing us; both when we sleep and when we wake His mercy waits upon us. -C. H. Spurgeon