You may have noticed that a monthly devotional accompanies each Sunday Prayer List that is emailed to prayer chain members. We hope that future devotional thoughts will arise out of the prayer times of prayer chain members. If you have a contribution that you would like to share please send it to Jerry Furniss (see below). Topics can be anything that might be encouraging, inspiring, thought provoking, biblically educational, or just a fun subject that might help others in their personal time in the Spirit. Jerry can also help find scripture references related to your devotion and in the general process of editing. We’d love to hear from you! For information or to submit a devotion contact Jerry Furniss at email@example.com or 856-881-2563.
* If you would like to submit a devotional, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
* Previous monthly devotionals can be found at http://crosskeyschurch.org under the heading Ministries, then Prayer Devotionals.
* If you wish to place a prayer request on the e-mail prayer chain, please use the following e-mail address: email@example.com.
November 2015 Devotional:God’s Promises for Thanksgiving By Jerry Furniss
October Devotional: Living by Grace: Humility and Faith By Jerry Furniss
July Devotional: KISS: Keep It Short & Simple By Jerry Furniss
June Devotional: Growing in Knowing the Lord
Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. (2 Peter 3:18)
Are you finding it hard to understand this world? Where do you find an answer for these things? How am I given the grace of understanding?
The new covenant of grace is a covenant of relationship. God's grace is available to enable us to grow in spiritual intimacy with our Lord. Here, grace is linked with growing and with knowing the Lord. As surely as grace was for spiritual birthing, grace is also for growing. The most strategic area of spiritual growth is progress in a deepening relationship with the Lord. Paul prayed in this manner for the saints: " that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him . . . and increasing in the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1:10).
This process of growth necessitates consistent intake of the word of God. "As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby". It is through the scriptures that we learn of the grace of God. The word of God is "the word of His grace" (Acts 20:32). Also, the word of God has the Lord Jesus Christ as the constant, primary subject. Of course, the Holy Spirit is the one who is to guide us into all of these great truths of the Lord Jesus. “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth . . . He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you" (John 16:13-14).
Gods will for our lives is that we might live in His word. This allows us to grow in His grace that we might know Him better. This is what is to delight our hearts and change our lives. “Thus says the LORD: ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories, glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, exercising loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,' says the LORD' " (Jeremiah 9:23-24). So many people (sometimes, even the people of God) chase after human wisdom, earthly power, or material riches. Why do they/you not chase after the knowledge and wisdom of God? God desires that He becomes the delight of our hearts and the goal of our life: “that he understands and knows Me.” So, let’s respond with joy to Hosea’s call: "Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of [the knowing of] the LORD" (Hosea 6:3).
Yes, the answer to the initial questions are, to understand this world we need to read His word, with the help of the Holy Spirit, until we gain His wisdom. A closed Bible is like a closed mouth; no words (answers) come out. Wherever you keep your Bible, keep it open. Listen to Him.
May Devotional: Living by Faith
Do you know all the answers? Do you know the why …, how …, what … about everything? Everything we have is not based on us, so why do we think we can determine everything on our own? Only He is all knowing. We must learn to let go, to have faith. We must have faith to better understand the world around us.
The entire Christian walk is designed to be lived by faith. Yet, how does one specifically learn to live by faith? Romans 10:17 is very helpful here. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." As we get into the scriptures, desiring to hear from the Lord, faith has opportunity to grow. Through the word, God speaks to us about Himself and His ways. He tells us His plans and purposes. He provides insights into reality. He drives away illusions and misconceptions. He offers promises and assurances. As we are thereby getting to know whom the Lord is and what He wants to do, we are stirred to trust Him to work these matters into our lives. We face trials or opportunities, and we trust Him to be faithful. We learn of our own inadequacy and are driven to His sufficiency. We look to the Lord in daily personal issues, and He proves faithful. Through it all, our faith continues to grow in response to what the Lord is revealing to us and is doing for us. This is God’s grace at work, because His word is “the word of His grace” (Acts 20:32).
This process illustrates the relational reality of faith. Faith is not something we can produce. It results from getting to know the Lord more and more. If you are not already connecting, I want to invite you to begin your relationship with the Lord today. Read His Word.
And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many show wax cold.
But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Lent: Fight the contrary desires of the flesh for those of the Spirit.
For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. (Galatians 5:17)
Everyone has had the frustrating experience of wanting to do what is right, but not being able to actually accomplish it. We are told here a spiritual struggle is behind that failure. The Spirit of God dwells within our lives. He is the “Spirit of holiness” (Romans 1:4). He desires that we be “partakers of His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10) and thereby walk in godliness. However, the flesh (natural humanity) is also present in our lives. These natural desires of man are not toward holiness, but rather toward self-indulgence and self-sufficiency. Thus, what the Spirit desires and what our flesh craves are fighting against each other. The consequence of this internal conflict is "that you do not do the things that you wish." Even though godly desires develop in us as new creatures in Christ, we often find ourselves unable to implement these new longings by our good intentions.
The Apostle Paul gave testimony to his own failure in this battle. [Read Romans 7:18-23] The problem was that Paul’s personal resources (the flesh) were not adequate to produce the desired results. Yes, Paul had some godly desires. Nevertheless, there was a problem that he could not resolve on his own. A tendency to sin that dwelt in Paul's human members (his body, his brain) pulled him down to defeat. He needed help just like everyone else.
Access to that necessary divine rescue was through a humble cry for a deliverer. [Read Romans 7:24-25] This appropriate confession of the spiritual bankruptcy of his flesh led to a confession of certain victory. This humble turning from self to Christ allows one to walk in the Spirit, living by His victorious resources. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2).
What are you struggling or fighting with in your life? Can you blame someone or something else? Have you really given control of your life to someone or something else? Lent is a time to reflect on those human desires and find one (or more) that you know (or feel) are not right with God. This is a time of remembering what Christ did for us; he was crucified for us. And therefore, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24) The only one and only things you should give your life to are God and His Truth and His Will for your lives.
Ephesians 2:3 All of us once lived among these people, and followed the desires of our corrupt nature. We did what our corrupt desires and thoughts wanted us to do.
Ephesians 4:22 You were taught to change the way you were living. The person you used to be will ruin you through desires that deceive you.
Philippians 2:13 It is God who produces in you the desires and actions that please him.
1 Cor. 6:12 Someone may say, "I'm allowed to do anything," but not everything is helpful. I’m allowed to do anything, but I won't allow anything to gain control over my life.
March Devotional: Faith Tested – Caring for Loved Ones
Caring for loved ones weighs heavy on many these days as decisions are made in the manner we will care for our aging loved ones. The stigma of the “nursing home" remains dominant in the mind of our older parents. They pray they will not end up in an “old folks home”.
In my experience and others have at one time, or are presently caring for quite an array of medical problems, from end of life issues, healing, recovery and for our aging loved ones. Such intense involvement may conjure up personal experiences on a 24/7 level that can be emotionally, physically, and spiritually draining to the point of depression or mental breakdown. Caregivers as family members have been known to pass away before their loved one, due to the overwhelming amount of intense emotional stress and time demanded of their service. This can also be a time when other family members are reluctant to help do to demanding changes to their comfortable lifestyles that they may refuse to give up.
The commitment of the caregiver demands sacrifice and a willingness to give their own life in love by helping others—a family member, a friend, or stranger. At this level, our Christian faith can be tested to the breaking point. Testing comes into play, when we have no support or help from other family members. Arguing among family members over the care for a loved one, but the most trying times, are the fighting effort for control of their lives given by the frustrated and suffering persons we are trying to serve. Such is especially true when loved ones become mentally challenged by stroke, dementia, Alzheimer’s, the residual effects of heart attacks and other debilitating diseases.
In like manner, the Christian life is equally similar, except believers choose a life-changing commitment to allow Christ Jesus to take control of our lives. When we surrender our lives to the living resurrected Christ as our personal Savior, we can lean on him and find the strength to meet the tests and storms of life. In faith we persevere through difficult and trying times, although it is definitely not easy to stand firm no matter what. Living a Christ centered life means a daily serious commitment to be in the living word of God. The more time spent on a daily basis with the Lord and his word and in fervent prayer, the stronger we become in knowing the Lord and his ways. Our connection is through fervent prayer—that is prayer where you lose track of time or are crying tears of joy and humility by feeling and knowing the awesome presence of Almighty God.
“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace. Helen H. Lemmel
This devotional is based on a definition of the word charity, or Love, that comes from agape love, that is unselfish, unconditional, and unstoppable. Real Love is a commitment to meet the needs of any particular person.
Written by, Bob Cooper
February Devotional: Law and Grace; Old Covenant and New Covenant
Let us look at the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. When the Lord wrote the message of His law upon stone tablets for Moses, He was prescribing the terms of the Old Covenant. “The LORD gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant.” (Deuteronomy 9:11) When Jesus came into the world to die on the cross, the Lord was establishing a New Covenant. “This cup is the new covenant in My blood.” (Luke 22:20) These two covenants of law and grace present one of the major contrasting themes in the word of God. “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ…” (John 1:17) Understanding the differences between these two covenants is of utmost importance for living the Christian life as God intends.
God's law tells us that He desires holiness to characterize the way we live. Only God's grace can provide such righteousness in our lives. God's law tells us that He wants Christ-like love to permeate our attitudes and relationships. Only God's grace can develop such love in us. God's law tells us that He desires the perfections of the Father to be growing in us. Only God's grace is sufficient to carry out such a process of transformation.
The law of God is the what; the grace of God is the how. The law of God reveals sin; the grace of God forgives sin. The law of God indicates man's problem; the grace of God provides God's remedy. The law of God demands performance by man; the grace of God offers provision from God. The law of God is the standard; the grace of God is the means. The law of God is the spiritual measuring rod that evaluates lives; the grace of God is the nurturing resource that produces spiritual life. The law of God tells us of the character of God; the grace of God reproduces that character in us. The law of God is the effect God wants to see; the grace of God is the cause that brings forth that effect.
Remember the Persecuted
Please remember to pray on a daily basis for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being driven from their homes, killed, or oppressed by harsh laws that are anti-Christian or contrary to biblical values and the Christian faith. Below is an update from some of the situations that we’ve been following.
- Egypt: We are praising God that since the Muslim Brotherhood was ousted in Egypt, hostilities toward Christians has been greatly reduced.
- Iraq: Since ISIS took control of portions of Iraq, Syria, and Kurdistan, thousands of Christians were forced to convert to Islam, pay an unfair tax, or to flee for their lives. In early August the Islamic State Jihadists took over large areas of northern Iraq, forcing about 300,000 Christians to flee, with nothing but their clothes, many of them on foot. The Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad, Louis Sako, said that the churches there were taken over, crosses removed and about 1,500 ancient manuscripts were burnt. Mark Arabo, a Chaldean-American businessman, also reported that fathers in Mosul were hung, women were raped, and that ISIS systematically beheaded children and displayed them in a local park.
- Meriam Ibrahim: On Friday August 1, a 27-year-old Sudanese Christian woman finally arrived in Manchester New Hampshire. Ibrahim’s father was Muslim but she was raised by her mother as a Christian. In 2011, she married Daniel Wani. Her ordeal began last year, when members of her father’s family complained that she had married a Christian. Ibrahim was charged with adultery because her marriage to a non-Muslim was considered void, and in May was sentenced to death for refusing to recant her Christian faith. The Bethany Covenant Church is assisting Ibrahim and her family to find an apartment in nearby Bedford, NJ.
- China: In July a Chinese court sentenced Zhang Shaojie, a Christian pastor to 12 years in prison on charges fabricated by the Communist Party in a crackdown on his growing Christian church. There are now more Christians in China than in the United States, currently estimated at about 163 million. Christian values are often at odds with government regulations. For example Christian couples who defy China’s one child policy because of the biblical view of the sacredness of human life are forced to pay a fine between three and ten times the average annual income in the city where they live.
The apostle Peter said, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (I Peter 4:12-13). We shouldn’t be surprised that persecution is taking place all around us because the Bible predicted it. Yet, the power of God’s love shines brightly, even in the midst of evil such as we are seeing in many parts of the world. The good news is that we know the rest of the story. Evil has no power over God! In the end, Revelation 20:7-10 tells us that Satan and his evil cohorts utterly collapse in the presence of our sovereign and majestic God without a fight. Between now and then, may we continue to be faithful witnesses to the transforming power of God’s love and grace.