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You must serve only the Lord your God.  If you do, I will bless you with food and water, and I will protect you from illness.  

-Exodus 23:25

Sacrifice -   

This devotional was written by Kelly McFadden

 

…Now Abel kept flocks and Cain worked in the soil.  In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the first born of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain he did not look with favor. So Cain was angry and his face was downcast. —Genesis 4:2-5

 

I heard a story the other day about two twin boys who love Skittles candies, especially red ones. When one of the brothers opens a bag of Skittles, he immediately pulls out all of the red ones and places them in his pocket. That way when he offers Skittles to anyone else, he still gets his favorite just for himself. The other brother, who loves the red equally as much, keeps all the colors together and offers others a choice of any color.

 

This sounds a lot like how we, as Christians, live our lives. We know God wants the best from us, yet we cheat Him and hold on to the best for ourselves. Just like Cain, we give some fruit…not the best. We make sacrifices that fit into our schedule and match our priorities. Our attitude is wrong, our motives are shaky.

 

What are you offering God? Are you keeping the best for yourself and giving Him only the things you don’t mind giving up? How is your attitude? Are you a joyful giver or do you tend to be tightfisted? Do you recognize all the blessings the Lord has given you and in turn give blessings to others?

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. Think about a time in your life that you have not given God your best. Why did you not give Him your all?

 

2. What part does your attitude play in giving?

 

FURTHER READING:

Mark 12:41-44; Hebrews 11:4

This devotional originally appeared in “HomeWord with Jim Burns” on Crosswalk’s Family Devotional section. For more information about HomeWord with Jim Burns devotionals, please visit us online.

More of HomeWord with Jim Burns: http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/homeword/

Sacrificial Love -  

 

God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. —Romans 5:8

 

God’s love is sacrificial love. The famous statement of Jesus found in John 3:16 expresses this love best: “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

 

God allowed His only Son to suffer and die in order for you to experience an abundant life on Earth and eternal life with God.

 

When I look at the cross, I am reminded of the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus Christ made to demonstrate His love for me. His love was not just words; it was epitomized by a sacrificial deed with eternal consequences. I’m convinced that if you were the only person who needed the redemption of God, Jesus would still have gone to the cross just for you.

 

What is our proper response to this sacrificial love? We humble ourselves, make Christ our Lord, and give Him our daily praise and thanksgiving for His mighty sacrifice. We never have to love God out of responsibility. Instead, we love him simply out of response for what He has done for us. Next time you notice a cross, pause and offer your sincerest thanks for His ultimate sacrifice of love.

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. According to Romans 5:8, what was Christ willing to do to demonstrate His love for us?

 

2. Today, do some research about the physical pain and suffering that Christ went through when He died for you. When you think about His physical pain and suffering, what is your response to Him?

 

FURTHER READING:

John 15:18; 1 Peter 3:18

Jim Burns is President of HomeWord and Executive Director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family @ Azusa Pacific University. Jim speaks to thousands of people around the world each year. He has over 1.5 million resources in print in over 25 languages. Jim’s radio broadcast is heard on over 800 stations a day and heard around the world via podcast at HomeWord.com. 

Some of his recent books include: Faith Conversations for Families; Teenology: The Art of Raising Great Teenagers, Closer: 52 Devotions to Draw Couples Together, Confident Parenting, The Purity Code and Creating an Intimate Marriage. Jim and his wife, Cathy and their three daughters Christy, Rebecca, and Heidi live in Southern California. 

More of Jim Burns: www.homeword.com

Redeeming Rejection -  

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. —2 Corinthians 1:3-5

 

Growing up, I was lousy at telling jokes. But, I love to laugh. I love teaching with humor—my thought is that tough truth always goes down a lot easier when the congregation’s mouths are open. So, about fifteen years ago, I took a stand-up comedy class hoping to improve my skills. The first four weeks we developed and practiced a routine, and then we had to perform a fifteen-minute set at the Improv—a local comedy club full of real, live people who weren’t our classmates.

 

I must admit, on the night of the big show…I completely bombed!

 

People started booing after my first few jokes. They totally rejected me. So, I stopped and started and stumbled through my whole routine—everything I had so carefully crafted—and I still had ten minutes to go. Even people closest to me said things like, “Yeah, Doug, that was rough.” It was one of the most humiliating moments of my life.

 

But do you know what the experience did for me? It made me more compassionate. If you want to try anything risky in your life, invite me along—I’ll be there to cheer you on! (And I promise not to boo!) I have a huge heart for anyone who does anything on stage in front of other people. I know how hard it can be. You can bet I won’t reject you.

 

There’s something that happens whenever you take that which has been rejected and broken in you and offer it to others in the form of compassion and understanding. This is the type of love that can change and help other people and open their hearts to the ways of God.

 

God is in the business of redeeming rejection for His glory. He can make all things new! Our part is to cooperate with His plan. Our own rejection can empower us to be more compassionate to the sources of our rejection. We can see them through God’s eyes. The rejection loses its power over us. We can then be tools in God’s hands to heal the pain of others’ rejection. And isn’t this what you want to be—someone God can use to heal others?

 

GOING DEEPER:

1. Who has or is rejecting you? To whom do you need to offer compassion?

 

2. How might feeling and expressing compassion to this person help redeem your rejection?

 

FURTHER READING:

Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:12; 1 Peter 3:8

DOUG FIELDS is the senior director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University and the co-founder of Downloadyouthministry.com. Doug has been a youth and teaching pastor at Mariners Church and Saddleback Church for 30 years and has authored more than fifty books. He is a passionate speaker reaching thousands of leaders, teenagers, and parents every year. Doug resides with his wife and three children in Southern California. 

More of Doug Fields: www.homeword.com

UNADORNED LIFE -  

BY MRS. CHARLES COWMAN

"These were the potters, and those that dwelt among plants and hedges: there they dwelt with the king for his work" (1 Chron. 4:23).

Anywhere and everywhere we may dwell "with the king for his work." We may be in a very unlikely and unfavorable place for this; it may be in a literal country life, with little enough to be seen of the "goings" of the King around us; it may be among the hedges of all sorts, hindrances in all directions; it may be furthermore, with our hands full of all manner of pottery for our daily task.

No matter! The King who placed us "there" will come and dwell there with us; the hedges are right, or He would soon do away with them. And it does not follow that what seems to hinder our way may not be for its very protection; and as for the pottery, why, that is just exactly what He has seen fit to put into our hands, and therefore it is, for the present, "His work."

--Frances Ridley Havergal


"Go back to thy garden-plot, sweetheart!

Go back till the evening falls,

And bind thy lilies and train thy vines, 

Till for thee the Master calls.


"Go make thy garden fair as thou canst, 

Thou workest never alone;

Perhaps he whose plot is next to thine 

Will see it and mend his own."

The colored sunsets and starry heavens, the beautiful mountains and the shining seas, the fragrant woods and painted flowers, are not half so beautiful as a soul that is serving Jesus out of love, in the wear and tear of common, unpoetic life. --Faber

The most saintly spirits are often existing in those who have never distinguished themselves as authors, or left any memorial of themselves to be the theme of the world's talk; but who have led an interior angelic life, having borne their sweet blossoms unseen like the young lily in a sequestered vale on the bank of a limpid stream. --Kenelm Digby


The public domain version of this classic devotional is the unabridged edition of Streams in the Desert.

Devotions.org, a division of Back to Bible has a daily source of devotions to keep you in touch with God and His word, written by some of today's top authors and Bible teachers. Browse the variety of resources completely on their website. 

More of Devotions.Org: http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions

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