DAY 27 – Honor: Lose Your Life, Find Your Greater Life | Firm Foundation Devotional



Matthew 10:39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. 40 “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”

Losing your life is finding your greater life. Through the New Birth, you have died to the old life and have been spiritually born to a new life in Christ. Recognizing this truth is "losing" your old life and finding your higher life.

Honor recognizes the powers of your new life. There is a great blessing in recognizing those who are sent by God. "He who receives you receives Me." When you know what restrains Jesus, you will know what restrains you. The following text shows how a lack of honor limited Jesus' power among the people.

Mark 6:1 Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. 2 And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! 3 Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him. 4 But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” 5 Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He marveled because of their unbelief.

A lack of honor reduced Jesus to something lesser and familiar in the minds of the people, and this attitude among the people blocked the blessings they could have received from Him. To his family, friends, and neighbors, Jesus was merely the kid down the street, or “the carpenter's son.” He was much more than his occupation, but “familiarity” hindered their ability to see Jesus’ greater purpose and ability.

Many times God will send what you need in a package you don’t understand or like. The Greek word for honor literally means “a valuing.” It speaks of something valuable, precious, or weighty, such as gold. Other definitions of honor  appreciation, esteem, favorable regard, respect. 

Reflection Question: How do you honor God? Who do you honor?

Action Item(s) Based on Understanding:

DAY 26 – Two Liberating Words: "Thank You" | Firm Foundation Devotional



Hebrews 13:12, Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 13 Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. 14 For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. 15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, [d]giving thanks to His name. 16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

Two of the most liberating words in our language are: “Thank you.”

Just as John taught that love is shown in deeds more than words, thanksgiving is always connected to what we offer or give. That’s why we celebrate birthdays with cards and gifts, because we wish to say “Thank you” for someone’s life. That’s why we celebrate Christmas with gift giving and honoring our Savior. It’s all about saying “Thank You” to the Lord for the gift of life and new life in Christ. 

God trained His people Israel to the importance of giving thanks by instituting the Law of Peace Offerings, also called "Thanksgiving Offerings." Many things in the Old Testament that began as a law were designed to train and develop people to recognize the grace of God. The law was a “schoolmaster” to led us to Christ. (Gal. 3:24)

Leviticus 22:29, And when you offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, offer it of your own free will

While the Law mandated many things to be done, there was the greater motivation of free will. This motivation for serving and giving came from the heart. It looked forward to the New Covenant under grace. 

The principle of free will and being thankful in our service to God is best practice for New Testament believers: 

1 Thessalonians 5:17-19, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.

Hebrews 13:15-16, Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

Today, we don't need a law to mandate our service and thanksgiving to God. Because of his love and grace, we don't have to be told to serve and be thankful. We are more than willing!

Reflection Question: What are examples of free will peace offerings or thanksgiving offerings, that you bring to the Lord?  Which people do you need to encourage by saying "Thank You?"

Action Item(s) Based on Understanding:

DAY 25 – I Press Forward | Firm Foundation Devotional



Philippians 3:13-14, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” 

Philippians 3:14 Good News Translation (GNT), "So I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God's call through Christ Jesus to the life above."

In Christ you have the power, grace, and ability to press forward no matter how short or long the path! The best part is this; you don’t have to use your own strength! God is committed to help you learn about the principles and strategies for pressing forward in God’s grace and power! It is part of the process.

On the surface, the phrase “I press” feels like human works, hardship, and extreme difficulty on the way somewhere. Effort is not the thing to focus on. The thing to focus on is the prize or the goal, which is the higher call, or purpose, in life. When you focus on your purpose and outcomes more than the difficulty of moving forward,  it is easier to manage the difficulties.

“The future rewards those who press on. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I’m going to press on.” —Barack Obama

Reflection Question: What difficulty do you need to stop focusing on? What purpose or outcomes do you need to focus on?

Action Item(s) Based on Understanding:

DAY 24 – The Power of Your Testimony | Firm Foundation Devotional



Hebrews 3:4 For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. 5 And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, 6 but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.

Everyone has built his or her “house.” Your house is your scope of responsibility, authority, ministry, jobs, and possessions. The Bible says that Moses was faithful in his house. His faithfulness became his testimony. Your testimony, like the chapters of a book, is written every day by your words and deeds of faith and obedience to God.

2 Corinthians 1:12, "For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you."

A good testimony is:

1) Clear conscience
2) Simple and sincere conduct in in clear view others (no hidden agendas)
3) Operating by grace, not by carnal (flesh-ruled) wisdom
4) Other-focused

Reflection Question: What is the testimony of your "house." What have you "built" with the help of the Lord?

Action Item(s) Based on Understanding:

DAY 23 – Worship: God’s Way | Firm Foundation Devotional | Guest Writer: Min. Shawn R. Carter


by Min. Shawn Renee Carter

Micah 6:6-8 (HCSB), What should I bring before the Lord when I come to bow before God on high?Should I come before Him with burnt offerings, with year-old calves? 7 Would the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams or with ten thousand streams of oil? Should I give my firstborn for my transgression, the child of my body for my own sin? 8 Mankind, He has told you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.

During old testament times the Israelites, Judah, God’s people, found themselves in a perpetual cycle of disobedience, God’s judgment, repentance, and God’s forgiveness. God continued to be merciful despite their forgetfulness and ungratefulness.

God sent the prophet Micah to the people because they had once again broken their covenant and turned away from Him, bringing judgment upon themselves. Micah described their sins as perversion of worship and injustice toward others. They were guilty of worshipping other gods (the gods of the kings) and bowing before false idols. Today, there are false idols such as ambition, self-worth, money, and social positions.

Judah was guilty of all kinds of injustices, rulers demanded gifts and judges demanded bribes, corruption was the norm. According to the Bible, Micah could not find an upright person. Even today, it can be hard to find fairness, honesty, and integrity. Sin has affected our society and even our homes. However, because we have Christ, we have hope.

We are in this world, but we are not of it. Followers of Christ bring salt and light. We bring influence and we set a different standard for others to follow. That standard is love and faithfulness to God. 

Galatians 5:22-24 (NIV), But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and its desires.”

God empowers us through the Holy Spirit to overcome temptations, sins, biases, and prejudices. He teaches us to love and treat one another right because we cannot say we love God while hating our neighbor. Whoever claims to love God, yet hates his brother or sister is a liar.

For whoever does not love their brother or sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. (1 John 4:20 NIV) 

We must love and show mercy towards those who have wronged us. We must regularly examine our motives for dealing with people and situations. Man was created for relationship with God. We worship to maintain that fellowship. Worship is vital because God desires deserves and expects it. John 4:23 states that God looks for “true worshipers who worship in spirit and truth.”

Scripture makes it clear, “It is impossible to please Him without faith.” It is impossible to worship Him without it being in spirit and truth. The one who draws near to God is the person who is faithful in persistent pursuit of Him and committed to loving and living life the way that God requires. We present ourselves a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1), to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with God.

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:

1. What does justice mean to you?
2. Besides singing or dancing, how to you worship God?
3. How do you overcome the temptation to conform to the ways of the world?

Action Items based on understanding:


Min. Shawn R. Carter is the worship leader at New Covenant Church, Indianapolis, Indiana.


_______________________


Get the new book by Bryan Hudson, 
Biblical & Social Justice: What Is It?

Available in print, Kindle, Apple iBooks, and Digital Voice editions