Gifts Aren’t Earned

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Today’s Devotional

by Pat Cooper
June 18, 2019

No one can read the list found in Romans 1:18–32 and not find themselves in it. The Bible makes clear that every man, woman and child have sinned and have come woefully short of God’s righteous standard (Romans 3:23). The Psalmist summed it up well:

They have all fallen away;
together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one.

— Psalm 53:3

Okay, I got that. Looking at my life was confirmation enough. Accepting the biblical record concerning my condition before God was not difficult, but understanding what I needed to do to make things right was.

Struggling with years of accumulated guilt, I walked the church aisles, shaking the preacher’s hand enough times to develop callouses, but I remained as lost as I was before. I sat calmly on a pew and listened actively to others lead me down the Roman Road so many times I could be a tour guide, but my heart remained unchanged. I went to my knees, praying the sinner’s prayer, bowing my head, raising my hand and repeatedly “repeating after me” as told, but my guilt remained. And yes, I was dipped and dunked enough times to have developed gills, but each time the results were the same: down a dry sinner, up a wet one.

Like following the yellow brick road but never finding Oz, I began to think God had written me off, and that making it to the Emerald City just wasn’t in the cards for me. One day, however, while reading through Matthew’s gospel for the umpteenth time I came upon this passage:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
— Matthew 11:28–29

Like driving down the road at 50 MPH when a signal light turns red right as you hit the intersection, I slammed on the brakes. “All who labor.” That’s me. “I will give you rest.” That sounded wonderful. I don’t know if it was theologically correct to read into that passage as I did, but sitting there in the quiet of a moment, scripture penetrating my foolish heart, I realized that my problem had been my trying to please God through my efforts, thinking the things I did would make Jesus happy so that he would wipe the slate clean, and we would live happily ever after. I was so, so wrong.

All my life I had pursued performance-based salvation, becoming a very good performer. I had worked my hands to the bone, so to speak. God, however, was not impressed. Not once. More than anything else, I learned that day — and would pass along to others — this simple truth: You don’t earn a gift. You just receive it and say, “Thank you.” God will take it from there.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
— Ephesians 2:8–9


We pray that God has used this devotional to encourage and challenge you. If you would like to speak to someone about a spiritual decision or engage in a spiritual discussion, please click here. If you would like to support the ministry of Community Life Church, please click here.

Mighty Warriors

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Yes, I am a proud dad excited to tell the world my son, Kyle, has released his debut song, Mighty Warriors on YOUTUBE and is available through all music media. Please share this video. It may not be your preferred genre but it will minister to a generation who is hungry for Jesus.

Thanks, Pat

Our Father

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Today’s Devotional

by Joanna Sarver with Dr. Mark Terry
June 14, 2019

The book of Matthew records Jesus on a mountain preaching the sermon we now call The Beatitudes. During this time, Jesus taught his listeners to pray. The Lord’s Prayer begins with, “Our Father…” With two simple words, Jesus drew his family together. By using the word our, the Lord signaled to all who believed then — and all who believe now — that we are his family, and God is our Father. We are the brothers and sisters of Christ. In modern terms, we could say Jesus sent out the announcement that his family was expanding via adoption.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ…
— Romans 8:14–17

Consider the parallel between adoption into the family of God and adoption of a child into an earthly family. The adoptee does not earn the privilege. It is given. We cannot earn our entry into God’s family because he gives it freely.

An adopted child is deliberately chosen and folded in to their new family. They are covered and shielded by the love of their new family and their life’s course is turned in a new direction. When we consider what salvation grants us, it is much the same. We are deliberately chosen by God for a new life and granted the covering of his great love. For many, many adopted children across the globe, being adopted is life-saving. How much more then is the saving grace of God for us when we accept him as Lord? He gives us life here, first, then eternal life with him in heaven.

After a year-long waiting period, my parents were scheduled for a hearing to finalize my adoption. The judge’s name was Judge Archangel, which seemed like a good sign to my parents. From the bench he looked at my father and said, “Do you understand, according to Philippine law, if you adopt this child you can never disinherit her?” He said, “Yes,” and the adoption became final. Dad says he has never forgotten the judge’s words (even when I was a teenager) because they so closely represent the finality and privilege of salvation.

When God adopts us into his family at the moment of salvation, we receive an irrevocable inheritance. We cannot be disinherited. We cannot be removed. We are secure. We are permanent member’s of God’s family. He is forever our Father.


We pray that God has used this devotional to encourage and challenge you. If you would like to speak to someone about a spiritual decision or engage in a spiritual discussion, please click here. If you would like to support the ministry of Community Life Church, please click here.

The Best News Ever

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Today’s Devotional

by Andrew Knight
June 12, 2019

A friend of mine recently shared with me that her mom, who claims to be a Christian, admitted that she only believes the “good parts” of the Bible. I wonder if she would consider Romans 1 a good part? Consider these choice phrases from that chapter:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
— Romans 1:18

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity…
— Romans 1:24

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind, to do what ought not be done.
— Romans 1:28

And in chapter 2:

But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
— Romans 2:5

Ouch.

These kind of verses may lead some to close the book and say, “I can’t believe in a God like that.” Or, like my friend’s mom, to ignore statements like this and focus instead on more feel-good themes, like God’s love and grace.

But it’s passages like Romans 1 that give us the context for the good news of the gospel. In fact, there is no good news at all if there is no bad news first. The gospel is only good news if it is needed news. If we have no need for salvation or forgiveness, Jesus is simply reduced to a nice guy worth emulating.

But emulation is far from our greatest need.

Do you believe that the crucifixion took place? If you do, then you have to wonder why it happened. What would cause a holy, righteous God to send his only Son to the cross to die a shameful, gruesome death? He would only do it if it were the only way to save you and me.

To say that there is no pending judgment for sinners (that is, all of us) is to say that there was no need for Christ’s sacrifice. But if God saw fit to nail him to a cross and allow him to suffer and die, he must be trying to save us from a fate so tremendously horrible that he would do anything to spare us from it — even at the cost of his own Son.

I’ll admit that I too have been tempted at times to believe in a God who doesn’t exactly measure up with scripture — a God who loves everyone (which is true) and would never send someone to hell (which is not true). My preferred version of God doesn’t include vengeance, justice or the final judgment that the Bible talks about. The only problem with my version is that isn’t real. And logically, it can’t be real.

So, as hard as it may be to believe in a Vindicator God, I am comforted by the fact that this Vindicator came first as a Savior to rescue us from a pending disaster that would one day overtake us all apart from him. And at the end of the day, maybe believing in the God of the Bible — in all of its revelation about him — is better than believing in a God of my own construction. For only in embracing the darkness of our depravity can we truly appreciate the goodness of our salvation.

And in that light (as the song goes), the gospel is not good news… It’s the best news ever.


We pray that God has used this devotional to encourage and challenge you. If you would like to speak to someone about a spiritual decision or engage in a spiritual discussion, please click here. If you would like to support the ministry of Community Life Church, please click here.

Life Under The Spirit

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Today’s Devotional

by Don Griffin
June 11, 2019

This devotional was originally published on July 21, 2011.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
— Colossians 3:1–17

I am constantly amazed at how simply Paul describes the Christian life under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Several very practical things stand out in Paul’s directions to the Colossians.

First, Paul is consistent in preceding suggested action with doctrine. The first couple of chapters of Colossians lay out awesome doctrine about Christ and his work on our behalf. Paul uses a similar style in Romans and Ephesians, where doctrine precedes practice (actions). It is out of this doctrine that our actions should be based. Upon what doctrine are you basing your actions?

Second, Paul also consistently speaks of the importance of the mind in living the Christian life. In Colossians, he uses the term set your minds. In Romans and Ephesians, he says, “renew your mind.” In Philippians, he says, “let this mind be in you which also in Christ Jesus”. Isaiah states the obvious reason for this:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
— Isaiah 55:8

Paul’s words remind me of the advice of Struther Martin (the warden) to Paul Newman (the prisoner) in the movie Cool Hand Luke. Martin basically tells Newman to “get your mind right, boy!” The apostle Paul definitely considers this an important aspect of living the Christian life. Do you have your mind right in relation to spiritual things?

Next, Paul implies that, in the Christian life, some changes are immediate and other changes take time. He first tells the Colossians to “put to death” some things. This implies an immediate cessation of these items, no discussion needed. He then says to “put off” some things and to “put on” some things. This phrase from the Greek speaks of a process, as in putting on or taking off a coat. There is a definite end goal in mind, but it is not immediately attained. Look at the list of things that Paul seems to indicate will take time. How are you progressing in these? Are you moving closer to the goal?

Finally (but not finally in covering all of Paul’s points in these verses), Paul stresses the importance of God’s word. He uses the phrase to let his word “dwell in you richly.” Dwell means to hang outto be at home. John used a similar word, abide. It is amazing how God’s word can change a life. How are you doing in letting his word dwell in you?


We pray that God has used this devotional to encourage and challenge you. If you would like to speak to someone about a spiritual decision or engage in a spiritual discussion, please click here. If you would like to support the ministry of Community Life Church, please click here.

The Accuser

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Today’s Devotional

by Rocky Hernandez
June 10, 2019

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
— Romans 2:1–4

Can you think of a time when you felt ridiculed, judged or shamed by someone else?

It seems that those who judge us have a way of distilling complex issues down to easy answers. And when it happens to us, we are left feeling shame, anger and loneliness, none of which are godly responses. Human judgment has never led someone to Christ. In fact, it pushes them further away. You recognize it in words like, “in my opinion…,” “it’s obvious that…,” “you should probably…” Shame is terrible, because it makes us feel that we are alone.

They do it for one simple reason: distraction. They compartmentalize sin so they are distracted from the ugliness of their own struggles. “Lying is not as bad as murder.” “Porn is not as bad heroin.” “I yell at my wife, but at least I don’t beat her.”

The accuser condemns someone’s divorce while ignoring their own sexual sin. They condemn someone’s abortion while ignoring their own adultery. They condemn someone’s sexuality while ignoring their own pride. When this happens, two things are created: a victim (where there doesn’t have to be one) and worse, a victor (where there are no winners). The victim is left hopeless, isolated feeling the weight and shame of their sin (and not knowing what to do about it), and the victor gets to walk away feeling grateful and superior, thinking, “I may not be perfect, but at least I don’t struggle with that.”

Can you think of a time when you have been the accuser? Be honest, really think. Ask God to reveal this to you.

You may be saying to yourself right now, ”Of course I have. Thank God for grace. Thank God for Christ!” But before you presume on the richness, kindness and forbearance of God and let yourself off the hook, what if we, just for a moment, sit under the hard truth of our brokenness? What if we allow ourselves, just for a moment, to let it break our hearts the way it breaks Christ’s?

Take a risk with me right now. Peel back the layers and stand bare before God. Imagine yourself in his presence naked. He sees every imperfection, every struggle, even the ones you think you have under control. He sees what you are, who you are, where you have been and what you have done. It breaks his heart. Feel that.

But now see also that he loves you. See now that, though he has every reason to, he does not turn away from you. Instead, he looks at you and says, “It breaks my heart to see you this way, but I will not leave you. I love you, and I will give everything to make you alive again.” Sit in that moment. Feel it.

Realize that even now, God is continually saving you because you continually need saving. Remember that his kindness to us is meant to lead us to repentance.

Don’t be in a hurry, take as long as you need to be in His presence and love. Tell him everything on your mind before you rush off. He loves spending time with you.

My prayer is that today we would offer others the same comfort we have received. (1 Corinthians 1:3–4)

I’ve included some scriptures for you to meditate on today. Choose one that speaks to you, and write it on a card, carry it with you. And if you find your mind wandering, pull it out, read it, and let it bring you back to this moment.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
— Romans 5:6–8

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved
— Ephesians 2:4–5

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
— John 14:16–18

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
— 2 Corinthians 5:21

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
— Galatians 2:20


We pray that God has used this devotional to encourage and challenge you. If you would like to speak to someone about a spiritual decision or engage in a spiritual discussion, please click here. If you would like to support the ministry of Community Life Church, please click here.

A Smoking Gun

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Today’s Devotional

by Pat Cooper
June 09, 2019

 

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

— Romans 1:18-20 ESV

Frankly speaking, I have more respect for a militant atheist than for the agnostic. At least the atheist doesn’t hem haw around about it. And although honesty in one’s forthright denial of God’s existence won’t net anyone a free pass. As I see it, the greater insult to God would be a plead of ignorance.

“If only I had known.”

“There was insufficient information upon which to make an intelligent decision.”

“If there had just been clear evidence.”

What a cold slap in the face. In creation, God has gone above and beyond, out of his way (if you will), to make his existence clear.

Every time there falls a drop of rain against my skin, wind in my hair or sunshine on my face. Each time I see a sunset, the sunrise or a star-filled night. Every time I observe a bird in flight, look at a flower, see a tree, smell a rose, taste a snowflake or stand looking out over an endless sea as the waves come crashing into shore; I am given adequate, abundant, and irrefutable evidence that God is, that he really does exist and according to the revelation of himself found in the Bible , no one will be able to plead ignorance.

The indictment has been handed down already, the charge is Suppression of truth. Clearly revealed truth for which nature is a smoking gun. Those who choose to ignore and repress this conspicuous truth are guilty as charged.

They just didn’t know the gun was loaded.

We pray that God has used this devotional to encourage and challenge you. If you would like to speak to someone about a spiritual decision or engage in a spiritual discussion, please click here. If you would like to support the ministry of Community Life Church, please click here.

 

When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder

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Today’s Devotional

by Pat Cooper
June 08, 2019

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.
— Romans 1:1 ESV

When Paul spoke of himself as being “a servant of Christ Jesus.” A better translation of the text would find Paul identifying himself as “a slave of Christ Jesus.” What’s the difference?

A servant is someone who serves another and may be hired and receive financial compensation to perform a job or task such as the butler, the maid, a ranch hand or the stable boy. On the other hand, a slave is a purchased possession, the property of his or her owner who has bought and paid for him.

Paul (beforehand an arch enemy of the church and of God) came to realize that more than a servant, he had been redeemed from the bondage of sin, “bought with a price, and no longer his own” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Understanding the significance of the work of Christ in his life he happily saw himself a slave, and his response of gratitude to God’s eternal gift of mercy and grace was to fulfill his commission proclaiming the good news (the gospel of God) to everyone in earshot all the days of his life.

Do you understand that as the purchased possession of Jesus your future is secure in him? You too have been bought with a price and are no longer your own. Today, by virtue of your belief in Jesus’ gift of himself on the cross, his death, and resurrection, you are a fully forgiven child of God with nothing to fear and assured that When the Roll is Called Up Yonder you’ll be there?

As Paul would later say, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” – Roman’s 8:1.

Are you thankful for God’s gift to you? How might you show your gratitude?


We pray that God has used this devotional to encourage and challenge you. If you would like to speak to someone about a spiritual decision or engage in a spiritual discussion, please click here. If you would like to support the ministry of Community Life Church, please click here.

From Mistake to Masterpiece

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Today’s Devotional

by Steve Glenn
June 07, 2019

To the man who does not work (for his salvation) but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.
— Romans 4:5

Our new sermon series, which we started last Sunday at c|Life, is on the message found in the book of Romans. The theme of Romans is the gospelThe good news. It should be very familiar to every Christian, but it seems as if we lose our gospel focus from time to time.

This is not a new problem for the church. In fact, not long after the great work of God on our behalf was done on the cross, early churches were reverting back to some old ways. Some wanted to keep the Law as part of what was needed in their religious life. From time to time even today we seem to make light of the grace of God and think we need to do something to help save ourselves. May God forgive us of that. God’s grace is more than enough to blot out our sins and make us righteous in his sight.

In Max Lucado’s book, Come Thirsty, he tells a story that took place back in the late 1800s. A group of fishermen were relaxing in a Scottish seaside inn, trading fishing and hunting stories. One of the men gestured widely with one hand while telling a questionable tale and accidentally knocked the serving maid’s tea tray into the wall. It made quite a mess.

The innkeeper looked at the damage and sighed, “That whole wall will need to be repainted.” A stranger spoke up and said, “No, let me work with it.” So he pulled out some pencils, brushes and pigment out of an art box. He started to work. He sketched lines around the stains, and added color to the splashes of tea. In time, an image emerged of a stag with a great rack of antlers. The man then inscribed his name at the bottom, paid for his meal and left. His name was Sir Edwin Landseer, the great wildlife painter. In his hands, a mistake became a masterpiece.

God’s hands can do the same in your life. If you have not already done so, ask God to forgive your sins and to enter into your heart today. You can become a child of God and a masterpiece of his grace.


We pray that God has used this devotional to encourage and challenge you. If you would like to speak to someone about a spiritual decision or engage in a spiritual discussion, please click here. If you would like to support the ministry of Community Life Church, please click here.