Here Am I:  Called To Sacrifice

Here Am I: Called To Sacrifice

While we continue to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe we have a great opportunity to represent Jesus well as we respond to God’s calling with a hearty, “Here Am I”!  Over the next 9 days I will continue sharing the devotions from my “Here Am I” book to help each of us pray about our response to God as He calls us to Himself.  Through time in prayer, this devotional journal was written to help you see and respond to God’s calling as you see Him working in your “everyday” life.

Here is day twenty-three with an important reminder that you, and those around you, have been called by God to live a life of sacrifice.

Called To Sacrifice

“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’
Mark 8:34 (NIV)

What do you think is the biggest obstacle to a willingness to sacrifice?  Why?  Are there things in this life you have sacrificed for in order to have (i.e. car, house, vacation, relationship, etc.)?  Why did you sacrifice?  Was it worth it?  Why?  What determines your willingness to sacrifice and the extent to which you are willing to sacrifice?  How does seeing a greater future value make you feel about giving up something that has a temporary value?  Is there anything more valuable to you than an eternity with God?

I’ve not yet met anyone who has been able to have everything they wanted at no cost to them.  Much of our life seems to be spent evaluating our priorities and determining what we’re willing to give up in order to have the things we really want.  It is in relationship with God that we begin to see the true value of things and discover that giving up temporary treasures for that which is eternal is worth it no matter the cost.  Jesus made it clear in His life and teaching that being His disciple came with a huge cost, yet denying self and dying with Christ yields an outcome that far surpasses the sacrifice of everything we have.

As you pray about being called to sacrifice, ask God to reveal to you anything which you still cling to that has become more important than Him.  Pray that you would consider giving up everything you are and everything you have as being a small sacrifice compared to the surpassing riches of His glory.  Pray for the courage to not only surrender the entirety of your life to Christ, but in that surrender to allow Him to use everything under your care for His purposes and glory.

In prayer,

Tom  

Here Am I:  Called To Be a Peacemaker

Here Am I: Called To Be a Peacemaker

While we continue to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe we have a great opportunity to represent Jesus well as we respond to God’s calling with a hearty, “Here Am I”!  Over the next 10 days I will continue sharing the devotions from my “Here Am I” book to help each of us pray about our response to God as He calls us to Himself.  Through time in prayer, this devotional journal was written to help you see and respond to God’s calling as you see Him working in your “everyday” life.

Here is day twenty-two with an important reminder that you, and those around you, have been called by God to be a peacemaker.

Called To Be a Peacemaker

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Matthew 5:9 (NIV)

Does your presence in a situation tend to increase the peace or the conflict?  Why?  How does your response to God’s call to peace influence your ability to be a peacemaker?  Are there people in your life who have been difficult for you to make peace with?  Why?  Is it always possible to be at peace with everyone?  Explain.  What does it take for you to be at peace with God?  With others?  How can you apply those things to being one who helps others to have peace with God, with you, and with one another?

When we live with the peace that only God can give, He expects us to find ways to make peace even with our enemies.  While peace is a two-sided proposition and we can’t force someone to a position of peace with us, our responsibility is to do our part as far as peace depends upon us.  It is often through the process of listening and forgiveness that we find peace with God and one another and we are able to help others know the peace that comes from God.  Living as a peacemaker among people becomes a much easier task when we first have peace with God and work at helping people find peace with Him.

As you pray about being a peacemaker, ask God to help you know exactly what it is that has brought peace into your life.  Pray that you would grow in both listening and forgiving as you make peace with the people around you.  Pray that you would have the humility necessary to be available as a peacemaker to those who are caught up in the midst of conflict.  Pray for the persistence needed to keep at it when the going gets difficult and peace seems elusive.

In prayer,

Tom  

Here Am I:  Called To Peace

Here Am I: Called To Peace

While we continue to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe we have a great opportunity to represent Jesus well as we respond to God’s calling with a hearty, “Here Am I”!  Over the next 11 days I will continue sharing the devotions from my “Here Am I” book to help each of us pray about our response to God as He calls us to Himself.  Through time in prayer, this devotional journal was written to help you see and respond to God’s calling as you see Him working in your “everyday” life.

Here is day twenty-one with an important reminder that you, and those around you, have been called by God to a life of peace.

Called To Peace

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Colossians 3:15 (NIV)

How much peace do you feel in your life at the moment?  What do you feel are the causes for that level of peace?  Why?  Does living with peace require the successful resolution of all conflict?  Explain.  What role does being thankful have in experiencing peace in all circumstances?  Are there specific things that seem to repeatedly rob you of peace?  Why?  How can identifying those things, and how God was with you the last time those things happened, help you to have greater peace when they reoccur?

The cares of this world seem to do a pretty good job at disrupting the peace God wants us to live with.  Since there is no magic wand to get rid of those cares, God calls us to a peace that surpasses all understanding.  In the midst of conflict and discouraging circumstances, we can find peace in knowing God has been present before, during, and after all of the things that try to steal our peace.  His presence will carry us through the conflicts of life with the peace of knowing the troubles are only temporary.  When we live out this sacred calling of peace, we find that our relationship with God, and with others, is transformed.

As you pray about being called to peace, ask God to remind you of His presence during the times He seems most distant.  Pray that you would trust in God’s promises when the cares of this world try to destroy the peace He has called you to.  Pray that you would have courage in facing conflicts which are beyond your control with a peace that can only come from God.  Pray about how your faith will allow you to see God at work in the midst of difficult and trying times.

In prayer,

Tom  

Here Am I:  Called To Love

Here Am I: Called To Love

While we continue to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe we have a great opportunity to represent Jesus well as we respond to God’s calling with a hearty, “Here Am I”!  Over the next 12 days I will continue sharing the devotions from my “Here Am I” book to help each of us pray about our response to God as He calls us to Himself.  Through time in prayer, this devotional journal was written to help you see and respond to God’s calling as you see Him working in your “everyday” life.

Here is day twenty with an important reminder that you, and those around you, have been called by God to love.

Called To Love

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
John 15:12 (NIV)

Who do you love?  Do they know it?  How?  How does being loved change the way you love?  What does it mean to love someone?  Does that look different based on who it is?  Explain.  Does the love God wants you to have for others always look like what the other person wants it to?  Why?  Are there people you don’t want to love?  Why?  How does experiencing God’s love for you help you to love people that may be difficult to love?  What would God want you to do differently today that would be a response to His call to love others?

While this may seem at first to be the same topic as the previous devotion, God’s calling to love is the giving aspect compared to the receiving that is done in being loved.  Loving people God’s way will always look out for their best even when doing so is not appreciated or desired.  Godly love is a giving of our self in order to lift someone else up.  Not only has God given us this sacred calling to love, but He demonstrated just how to do that through the sending of His Son to express His love for us.  Loving the hard to love is possible only when you realize just how much God has loved you.

As you pray about being called to love, ask God to help you notice the things that people actually need.  Pray that you would look to God for the strength and courage to love people you don’t like.  Pray that you would do the hard work of loving those who are difficult to love.  Pray that God would remind you of His great love for you even when you were living as His enemy.  Pray that your love for people would help others to know a God who loves them fully.

In prayer,

Tom  

Here Am I:  Called To Be Loved

Here Am I: Called To Be Loved

While we continue to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe we have a great opportunity to represent Jesus well as we respond to God’s calling with a hearty, “Here Am I”!  Over the next 13 days I will continue sharing the devotions from my “Here Am I” book to help each of us pray about our response to God as He calls us to Himself.  Through time in prayer, this devotional journal was written to help you see and respond to God’s calling as you see Him working in your “everyday” life.

Here is day nineteen with an important reminder that you, and those around you, have been called by God to be loved.

Called To Be Loved

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.
Jude 1:1-2 (NIV)

How loved do you feel?  Why?  Do you ever think you are unlovable?  Why?  What does it take to make you feel loved?  Does that change based on who the love is coming from?  Why?  Is unconditional love the same as unconditional approval?  Explain.  How does the love you have experienced from people influence your view of God’s love?  Should it?  How does knowing that God Himself has called you to be loved by Him change the way you experience His love?  Will living as one loved by God change you?  Why?

Sometimes the person we think most undeserving of being loved is our self.  While there may be a lot of factors which lead us to believe that, the truth is that God has called each of us to be loved by Him!  Our actions do matter to God but not in the sense that they increase or decrease His love for us.  Even the best love that we experience from people pales in comparison to the purity of the love that only God can give.  When God says that He so loved the world that He gave, He means that He loves you and I now and He loved us when we were dead in our sins.  Living as one loved by God is indeed a sacred calling.

As you pray about being loved, ask God to bring healing to whatever is in your life that tries to convince you that you are unlovable.  Pray that you would seek to please God because of His love rather than seeking God’s love by pleasing Him.  Pray that any doubts you may have about God’s love for you would be dispelled as you respond to His call to be loved.  Pray for the courage to live as one loved by God as you represent Him to people who need to experience that same love.

In prayer,

Tom  

Here Am I:  Called To Live In Hope

Here Am I: Called To Live In Hope

While we continue to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe we have a great opportunity to represent Jesus well as we respond to God’s calling with a hearty, “Here Am I”!  Over the next 14 days I will continue sharing the devotions from my “Here Am I” book to help each of us pray about our response to God as He calls us to Himself.  Through time in prayer, this devotional journal was written to help you see and respond to God’s calling as you see Him working in your “everyday” life.

Here is day eighteen with an important reminder that you, and those around you, have been called by God into His glorious light.

Called To Live In Hope

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope when you were called.
Ephesians 4:3-4 (NIV)

What does hope mean to you?  How do you usually use the word?  Do you think that is what God means when He calls you to live in hope?  Explain.  When is hope most needed?  Have you ever been discouraged — perhaps even now?  How does hope help you to see that your current circumstances are not permanent?  Has anyone ever tried to encourage you with a hope that you knew was iffy at best?  Did it help?  Why?  How does living with one hope differ from what the world offers when it comes to hope?

In a world filled with self-help books and podcasts covering just about any situation imaginable, true hope seems to be a rather elusive thing for many who desperately need it.  In our efforts to make sense of a messed-up world, there is only one source that offers real hope in the midst of troubling times.  When God calls us to live in hope, it is in the context of being united with Him in a way that ought to unite us with one another.  The one hope that can carry us through anything is the assured hope that is available through Jesus Christ.  When we live in this hope, we live with something the world both wants and needs.

As you pray about being called to live in hope, ask God to help you to see the various things you have tried to put your hope in.  Pray that you would set aside the world’s view of hope so that you could live in the one hope that God calls you to.  Pray for the courage to share true hope with others even when they think they can find a better hope elsewhere.  Pray that your hope in Jesus would help you live in greater unity with others.

In prayer,

Tom  

Here Am I:  Called Into Light

Here Am I: Called Into Light

While we continue to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe we have a great opportunity to represent Jesus well as we respond to God’s calling with a hearty, “Here Am I”!  Over the next 15 days I will continue sharing the devotions from my “Here Am I” book to help each of us pray about our response to God as He calls us to Himself.  Through time in prayer, this devotional journal was written to help you see and respond to God’s calling as you see Him working in your “everyday” life.

Here is day seventeen with an important reminder that you, and those around you, have been called by God into His glorious light.

Called Into Light

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)

Have you ever used darkness to get by with things that you should not have done?  Why?  How does light influence your choices?  Are there things that you allow to exist in the shadows of your life that you would rather not be brought to light?  What are they?  What would God want you to do with them?  Will you?  How does living in the light make you feel?  Why?  Should being called into the light change the way the people around you see you?  The way they see God?  In what ways?

Whether you prefer living in the spotlight or are more comfortable in the background of life, God calls you to step out of the darkness of this world and into His glorious light.  This calling isn’t about you being more visible, but about Him being more visible through you as you proclaim His praises each day.  As we journey further into God’s light, it is not just the deeds of darkness we leave behind — we also find the things we’ve kept in the shadows are exposed for what they are.  Responding to God’s call to walk in His light isn’t about guilt or shame over what is exposed, rather it is about finding freedom to live in that light in a way that glorifies God.

As you pray about being called into the light, ask God to help you see any areas of darkness that keep you from embracing His light fully.  Pray that you would allow Him to transform your mind so that even the hints of darkness would have no appeal to you.  Pray that you would constantly praise God as you recall both what He has called you out of and what He has called you into.  Pray for God’s help in not only walking in His light, but in helping others to see His light.

In prayer,

Tom