Too Afraid to Return

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Today’s Devotional

by Casey Coats
August 02, 2019

A few years back, at youth camp, a group of students decided that it would be a funny prank to sneak out of their room in the middle of the night. They were hoping that we would chase them around the entire camp, but we didn’t. We just sat outside their room and waited until they came back. Eventually, they did come back — except for one. His mother was there at camp as a counselor, and he was so afraid of her response to his sneaking out that he just stayed in the woods, even when all his friends came back.

I can relate to how that kid felt. Can’t you? There have been so many times in my relationship with God when I have screwed up and gone my own way, and in the middle of those moments, the idea of coming home to God the Father was one of the scariest, most intimidating thoughts ever. Questions like, “What will he do to me when he gets his hands on me?” and “How’s he going to respond when I come back?” rolled through my head.

The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 answers those exact questions.

What will He do when he gets his hands on you?
He will embrace you and kiss you! (Luke 15:20)

How will he respond when you come back?
He will throw a party, and insist that you join him on the dance floor! (Luke 15:22-24)

I am convinced that so many of us avoid coming to God the Father because we are afraid of how he is going to respond to us and our sin, but there is no need for fear. When a sinner comes home to God, the response is always one of mercy, grace, love and celebration!

The ironic thing about the kid who ran off in the middle of the night at camp was that the whole time he was away, he was thinking about how mad his mom must be at him. Meanwhile, all she could think about was finding her son. She was not mad at all. That’s how God the Father feels about you. He isn’t angry with you. He just wants you to come home!

If you’ll just come home, you’ll find that the Father’s response is so much different from what you’re expecting! Will you come home today?


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.

Welcome Home

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Today’s Devotional

“…Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” So they began to celebrate.
— Luke 15:23-24

I wish I remembered my grandfather, George. By all accounts, he was a great man — giving, faithful and just. The story goes that, every Christmas, he and my grandmother, Isabel, wanted to spend precisely the same amount of money on gifts for their two daughters. Fairness was so important that if either daughter had been short-changed, they would give cash to her to even things out. My mom told me that Grampa loved the Bible, but given his preference for equity, he had a lot of trouble with the parable of the lost son (Luke 15:11-32). He thought it wasn’t fair that the “bad” son got to leave home, squander his inheritance and betray his family, but was still welcomed back, while the “good” son, who stayed home and worked, got short-changed. The fact is, it isn’t fair at all — and I’m so very grateful. The parable of the lost son is one of my favorite passages in Scripture. It conveys a central message of the gospel: our God desperately wants each and every one of his children to come home, and he died to make it so.

Most of us don’t really understand God’s approach to our lives. We, like my grandfather, think life should be fair. We like to see people get what they deserve. But as prophesied by Isaiah:

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
— Isaiah 55:9

God is not like us! The truth is that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). In reality, we are all lost children and don’t deserve God’s mercy, but we are being called home just as we are. We see this truth throughout Scripture. The Father is making a way for his children to come home.

“Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”
— Isaiah 55:7

Jesus’ radically unfair message to the lost — to all of us — is this: “Run home! You will find a Father who is merciful, who loves you and wants to throw you a welcome home party! You are not too good to need him; you are never too far gone to be embraced. Come as you are. He loves you and wants you to come home.”

No Greater Love

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Today’s Devotional

by Lauren Battle
July 30, 2019

For far too long, I believed the lie that I could only be used by God if my life were perfectly in order. And for far too long, I used this excuse as a reason to try and hide from him. I felt too ashamed, embarrassed, dirty and sinful to turn to him, so I began to turn and run. Avoiding my Bible, my Christian friends, godly fellowship, and even church. But even in the midst of my brokenness, God continued to pursue me. He relentlessly chased me down time and time again.

During this time, he continually placed people in my life to be a light during some of my darkest times. It was in this time that his goodness and faithfulness was revealed to me in a way that I had never experienced firsthand before.

God knew I was broken, but I was never too far gone for him. As I studied scripture, I was reminded time and time again that he uses the most unlikely people to glorify his kingdom. Moses, Rahab, Paul, Zacchaeus and so many more have been used in the most unlikely ways, not because of who they were, but because of who he is. There are no exceptions to who God will use or accept.

My sin never kept Christ from seeking me, but because of his continuous pursuit, I have allowed him to change me in more ways than I ever could’ve fathomed. He’s constantly smoothing out my rough edges, changing my heart and molding me like clay into the person he wants me to be. After all, he didn’t send his son to die for us because we’re perfect people, but the exact opposite. Our imperfection doesn’t keep us from God, but instead shows us just how desperately we need him.

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


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 Reality of Grace

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Today’s Devotional

by Rocky Hernandez
July 29, 2019

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

It’s amazing to me how many Christians believe in karma. What’s even more amazing is how much this belief can damage your soul.

I have to give a disclaimer here, the definition that most of us believe about karma is incorrect. The common (incorrect) understanding of karma is cause and effect — you do bad, and bad things happen. You do good, and good things happen. You don’t have to live in this world for very long to know that every day millions of good people suffer, and millions of wicked people prosper.

Here are a few reasons this is dangerous for a Christian:

  1. The lack of justice in this world will anger you.
  2. The incorrect belief that if you suffer, it is because God is punishing you.
  3. The incorrect belief that if you prosper, it is because God is rewarding you.
  4. The most detrimental is that it takes the focus off God’s actions and puts the focus back on you.

The psalmist says in Psalm 73:2 that seeing the wicked prosper almost made him slip up. This is a sentiment we can all relate to. We often get mad when we see people getting things we believe they don’t deserve. Or worse yet, we get mad when we are not getting the things we think we deserve.

These are the hard truths of living in a fallen world. If a lack of justice angers you, can you imagine how much it angers God?

Here is what I need you to know: God demands justice. We incorrectly believe that God is willing to overlook our sins because he loves us. WRONG. God is not overlooking your sin. God demands justice.

This is why Jesus is so important. God sacrificed his son, in the most brutal way, for your sake, because he demanded justice. God did not forget that there was a penalty for sin because he loves you. He paid the penalty of sin because he loves you.

As I am writing this, I’m praying that with the help of God we will fully understand what it means that, “while we were still sinners Christ died for us”. We don’t believe in karma. Instead, we live in the reality of 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.

Then – Today – Tomorrow

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Today’s Devotional

by Steve Glenn
July 26, 2019

This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
— Psalm 118:24

Sometimes we are so busy looking forward that we miss the now. We miss the blessings and opportunities of today. From time to time it seems that, as Christians, we have a “someday” faith. One day it will be great to be a Christian. When we die. Well, while that is true, it is certainly not how we are called to live abundantly today. It is good to be a child of God today. Of course, the being in heaven thing after we die is not bad either! But let’s live as a child of God today.

Sometimes the now is a big hurdle for us. Today might not find us where we want to be or where we know we should be. We miss the blessings of today because we feel far from God. We think God would be mad at us if we approached him as we currently are. What a terrible mistake to make. And make sure of this: those thoughts are not of God. The sins of today are ones that Jesus died on the cross for. Those sins are not a hindrance to God blessing you. You making the mistake of not coming to him for help and grace are.

God demonstrates his love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us.
— Roman 5:8

God’s love for us is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. That is some really good news. He knew you on the day your received his grace and were saved. He knows you now and where you are today. And he loves you. That should make tomorrow worth walking into as a confident child of his.

If you have not received the gift of God’s grace, do so today. It will make your today better and your future secure. If you need help knowing how to do this, email us using the link below, contact one of our pastors at c|Life or ask a Chrisitan friend.


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.

God’s Love and Hope

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Today’s Devotional

by Rebecca Spence
July 25, 2019

And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
— Romans 5:5

Do you remember the day, as Randy Wade so beautifully said in this past Sunday’s sermon, that “God ushered your soul into his presence”? Nothing is more beautiful, more humbling, more hopeful, more joyful, more graceful, more merciful nor more peaceful than this moment of revelation that is God’s gift of love and hope for those who choose him. The rush of understanding, the sudden enlightenment, the call to action and the slow, steady gain of knowledge and relationship with Jesus Christ all come together and move forward in that moment. Suddenly we find the worldview that best explains this world in which we find ourselves living and how we were meant to respond to it.

Through the rush of the Holy Spirit, Christ is there to explain why our sins feel so wrong, no matter how right we want them to be. Suddenly we understand why justice matters so dearly, as there is a godly standard we were born to seek, yet reject so violently by rejecting him. And suddenly we see so clearly how miraculous the grace of God is, poured out through the blood of Jesus for those so unworthy.

In short, that ushering in of our souls to God is the ushering in of pure joy, the joy that is expressed through the filling of our hearts to overflowing with the love of God and the love for God. The joy that comes with the knowledge of truth through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

When times are hard and suffering is great, remember that joy. It’s still there. It remains with us. Tap into that hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
— Romans 15:13


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.

God Is Greater

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Today’s Devotional

by Valerie Williams
July 24, 2019

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
— Romans 5:1–5 ESV

This passage has been one of my favorites for a very long time, but it might not be for obvious reasons. I love that one thing builds and leads to something else, all the while claiming and holding tight to the promises of God. It’s like seeing the summary of our walk with Christ. Accepting Jesus as my savior, trusting in him, ignites my relationship and allows his provision and plan for me to move into my personal and intimate walk with him. Limitless, matchless grace through faith, giving way to unending peace — peace that just can’t be explained, peace in the midst of any circumstance, the peace of God immediately and eternally taking hold of my soul and becoming what I cling to and my compass to navigate me through life’s journey. That isn’t even my most treasured part of the passage! I am absolutely in awe of Romans 5:3–5! God’s intention is always to bring the most amazing out of that which seems condemned and hopeless, while continually growing us and seeing us through the whole process. The Message translation says it this way:

There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
— Romans 5:3–5 MSG

How different our lives would be if we embraced the very thing that seemed to weigh us down? I am not sure that I will ever throw a party on my worst day, get excited when times are tough, much less celebrate the sadness, but what if I became so infatuated with God, his word, and his promises that I could see the circumstance from his perspective? After all, our circumstances, whether they seem good or bad, are simply incredible opportunities to watch God work and see his glory revealed. We may not see the immediate outcome, but God is always intentionally, intimately, and intricately at work. We just have to live out our faith and trust him to be who he is.

There are a lot of people truly weighed down by the day to day and the here and now. “The struggle is real” seems to have become the theme of their life. We all face hard times. The enemy’s mission is to steal, kill and destroy. He is always at work to bring devastation, destruction, and desolation to this world and all of the people in it, but God is God. The struggle may be real, but in Jesus, there is always hope. There is always a plan to set things right. God is greater, period, and he is continually working things out for our good. His provision is always perfect. We may not see the how, but we can always trust, claim, and know the promises, provision, and plan of God!


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.

God Is Faithful

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Today’s Devotional

by Kaitlyn Bray
July 23, 2019

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
— Romans 5:1–5

How do I know that I can trust God to be faithful? How can I trust that there is eternal life found in him? How can I even trust God is real?

Grace:
Through his grace I have been saved. I am deeply flawed. I continually make the same sinful mistakes over and over again. And yet he still died for me, he still forgave me, and he still offers me eternal life. I am no longer weighed down with the consuming weight of sin. A heavy burden I could not carry is now lifted. Through his grace I find the strength to forgive others. To be a reflection of his perfect grace and a window for others to see the salvation that awaits them if they only accept. Without his grace I would be burdened, and condemned but because of his grace I am not. God is faithful.

Joy:
I now can truly find joy in life where it was not before. Life is still broken but there is now gladness despite the circumstances. I am joyful to know I am forgiven. I am beloved. I am sought after. There is joy knowing that your life matters and what you do with it matters to God. God is faithful.

Peace:
I have a peace and understanding that goes beyond comprehension. Life can be so terribly hard, things will always be out of my control, but there is peace knowing I don’t need to be in control, because God is in control. He spent a millennia preparing the way for Christ his son and then sacrificing him for mankind so that I myself could be saved. After all that has already been done for me how could I ever think he would set out to abandon me now? God is faithful.

Hope:
I have an undying hope that he will return, that there is a place beyond this world that I was meant for. This hope is something deep within my soul, something I can’t begin to explain. Something that was set free when his grace saved me. This hope is now very much my identity and is a light to others who are swept up in the dark. It guides them to their own hope in him. Hope sets me apart and hope pushes me forward. God is faithful.

Love:
And the greatest of these is love. The entire culmination of the Gospel is a redemptive story of perfect love. I was broken, my very nature rejected him, yet he still loves so entirely much, so entirely perfectly, that he died, he gave is last breath so that I MAY be saved. And there’s the beauty of it. He knew long before I took my first breath, that I could very well reject his salvation but he still died for me. He still loved me even if I didn’t love him. He still leaves us to choose. He wants us to choose to love him and to love others. God is faithful.

These five anchors that Paul mentions in Romans — grace, joy, peace, hope and love — are a reflection of God’s faithfulness. They are gifts that spring up within us from our salvation in Him. Testaments to his unwavering love and trustworthiness. And with them I can be certain I am saved, I am loved and I will spend eternity with Him fulfilling the purpose he created me for.

“He died not for men, but for each man. If each man had been the only man made, he would have done no less.”
— C.S. Lewis


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.

He Gave Us Hope

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Today’s Devotional

by Blake Clickner
July 22, 2019

We had it perfect. Life was good. All we had to do was take care of a small garden and not eat from one tree. Life was simple, but then something happened. We listened to the words of the enemy. We listened to the one who comes to kill, steal and destroy. We ate of the fruit and lost everything.

I can’t imagine what those moments felt like. Worry entered the world for the first time, and the first feeling of pain must have been excruciating. All of my focus would’ve been on fear. Then God did something amazing. He gave us hope.

…He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
— Genesis 3:15

He will bruise your head, but you shall bruise his heel. This is hope! This is the first mention in the Bible of the coming Savior. In the book of Revelations, we are told that God was not caught off guard by Adam and Eve’s sin. He had a plan all along, and made a way for us to reconnect with him. Revevelation 3:18 refers to “the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.”

Because of Jesus, we have hope. What Jesus did on the cross gives us the ability to know we are safe. We are victors because of Jesus. We have no reason to fear or worry. We know who we belong to, and we know that, because of Jesus walking out of the grave, we can be reconnected to the God who knew we would fail and yet still loved us.

We are just like Adam and Eve. The enemy is still trying to attack us and cause us to question what we know is true. So I encourage you, when you feel overwhelmed or under attack, to stop and remember what Peter tells us:

casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
— 1 Peter 5:7–8

We must turn it over to Jesus. We may be under attack, but what’s awesome is we know that our God is bigger, and he is in control. Do not let the enemy whisper in your ear like he did with Adam and Eve. Remember that, because of Jesus, you have nothing to fear Because of Jesus, you have hope. And because of Jesus, you know that you have the victory. Because we know who wins in the end.


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.

Faith Like Abraham

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Today’s Devotional

by Joanna Sarver

July 19, 2019

No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God,
— Romans 4:20

The apostle Paul, author of the book of Romans, is talking about Abraham. He references Abraham for his exceptional faith. Faith is a verb, an action word. Abraham acted out his faith in ways that pleased God and he was blessed. Faith is not a feeling. It is the daily act of choice to believe God at his word, despite worldly circumstances.

Abraham was well past the time when men fathered children when his wife, Sarah, delivered Isaac. Abraham believed God and acted in faith, despite all natural evidence to the contrary. He could not see the evidence of God’s faithfulness until Sarah became pregnant, but he chose to believe none the less.

Faith is a daily process — a journey, not a destination. Paul says Abraham “grew strong in his faith,” which tells us two things. First, Abraham’s faith needed work over time. Secondly, he was successful in strengthening his faith. The same is true for us today. Our faith needs work, from the time we accept Christ into our hearts to the moment we take our last breath. Along the way, our faith is strengthened as we see evidence of God’s work in our lives and those around us.

How is faith strengthened? Faith is strengthened by focusing on what God has said in his word, instead of what can be seen, heard or felt in our circumstances. Remember, faith is not a feeling. Feelings lie. Faith is choosing to believe God, regardless of what you experience.

Abraham’s faith was deeply tested when God asked him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. God, without warning or reason, told Abraham to take Isaac on a three-day trip and, upon arriving, sacrifice him to the Lord on an altar he had to build. The pain, confusion and anguish Abraham must have experienced in those three days is unimaginable. Abraham was not aware of God’s ultimate plan. He did not have an explanation or a reason for what God was asking. It was by all accounts unbearable and unreasonable. But as Paul says in verse 20 that Abraham gave glory to God and did what he was asked. God later explained to Abraham that he was not asking “for” Isaac but asking “of” Abraham. He was asking Abraham for total surrender. Because of Abraham’s faith, we experience God’s blessing even today.

It is unlikely that God will ask the same of us as he asked of Abraham, but there will be times, maybe even today, when circumstances are hard or do not make sense. Believe God’s word and his promises. Your faith will grow stronger, and you will see God at work doing only what he can.


We have put together a list of resources to help you dig into the book of Romans! Visit clifec.com/romans to check it out!


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.