Weekly Devotions

 
 

Lights out

“LIGHTS OUT”

That feeling of darkness and confusion is not limited to automated light sensors with short attention spans. If we are honest, we have a lot of “lights out” moments in life. One second, everything seems normal. Life is good, God is good, and the future is bright. Then without warning, the lights go out. Maybe there’s a serious illness in your family. Or the bank decides to foreclose on your home. Or you lose your job. Suddenly nothing makes sense. You thought you had it all figured out, you thought the future was guaranteed, but now you aren’t so sure. Deep inside you know that God is still in control, but for some reason he’s leaving you in the dark.

What just happened? What went wrong? Did I mess up? Is someone out to get me? Is this the apocalypse?

Often, it’s none of the above. Especially the apocalypse part. We didn’t make a mistake, and no one—God included—is out to get us. It’s just the nature of life. It’s the uncertainty of human existence. To be honest, I wish it weren’t that way. I wish we could guarantee that life would be easy and predictable and well lit. But it’s not. And that’s why God’s peace is so essential.It’s easy to be peaceful when the world around us is at rest. When we can see what’s ahead and we are in control. But when chaos and fear clamor for our attention, we need true peace the most. Peace has to work even in the face of problems or it really isn’t peace at all. Jesus told his disciples:

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27 NKJV)”

In other words, they expected God’s peace to look like the normal human idea of peace: absence of conflict, freedom from threats, lack of problems. But Jesus wanted them to know that his peace isn’t limited to our temporary circumstances or human limitations. That’s why his peace is so much better than ours. The peace of God doesn’t depend on being able to see the future. It isn’t based on being in charge of what is happening around us. It depends on who God is. It is the result of his nature and character and promises. God is dependable and powerful, and he is committed to being with us no matter what. We can’t predict life, but we can predict that God won’t leave us or forsake us.

We can’t guarantee the future, but we can guarantee that God will be there. And that’s the greatest source of peace we could ask for.

Excerpt From

Life Is _____ Forty-Day Experience

Judah Smith



The Chariots and Horsemen of Israel

The Chariots and Horsemen of Israel

The LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

—2 KINGS 6:17

“In today’s Scripture passage, the prophet Elisha has just been doing his prophetic thing—passing on insights from God for the good of his nation—and it has him caught up in the crosscurrents of a military conflict. An enemy army has surrounded the city where Elisha is staying, solely to take the prophet out. Permanently. Here’s the thing. Elisha is so full of faith that he has the ability to see God’s angelic army. Earlier in his ministry Elisha had exclaimed, “The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” when he had seen Elijah taken up to heaven (2 Kings 2:11–12). And now, years later, Elisha is seeing the heavenly chariots and horsemen again. The angels are lined up to fight on Israel’s side. But Elisha’s servant doesn’t have the same kind of faith and can’t see the spectacular scene.

So Elisha prays, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see” (2 Kings 6:17).

And there before the servant’s eyes, they appear: rank upon rank of the angelic host, shining with heaven’s own light. They are there to protect Elisha, the man of God. That’s what faith does. Faith opens our eyes so that we might see the God who is already at work on our behalf. Faith opens our eyes to the fact that there is a God who is fighting for us, a God who is faithful to us, a God who will make a way for us. One of the people who has written in to our website (sunstandstill.org) is a woman named Kimberly. She had an incredible story to share.

“Faith opens our eyes so that we might see the God who is already at work on our behalf. #sunstandstill”

Things had been going very badly for Kimberly. Her father died of a drug overdose. Her fiancé overdosed on pain medication, though he survived. Kimberly had a car accident because she was using drugs, and this led to her children being taken away from her. She lost her home and at one point found herself sleeping in some bushes. At this point God seemed as far away from her as He possibly could be. Faith didn’t open her eyes so much as it opened her ears. One morning she woke up with the definite impression that someone was talking to her. “What is keeping you from Me?” a voice asked. Kimberly looked around. No one was there. What is keeping you from Me? That was the beginning of Kimberly’s road to God. Since that date she’s never used again. She’s in drug recovery, is married, and has her children back. She wrote to say that she has a Page 23 vision and is pursuing it. How awesome is the God we serve!” she wrote to me. Sometimes we hear about blind faith. But the truth is, audacious faith is anything but blind.

PRAYER FOCUS: Ask God to open your eyes to what He’s already doing in your life as you exercise your faith.

Excerpt From

Sun Stand Still Devotional

Steven Furtick



Peace and pebbles

“PEACE AND PEBBLES”

“One of the more irritating sensations in life is to have a rock in your shoe. I’m sure it’s happened to you. Maybe you rush out of the door into a day full of activities, only to realize within seconds that there is a pebble rolling around in your sneaker. How it got there, you have no idea. It wasn’t there yesterday. And your shoes have been in the closet all night, not in a gravel quarry. But somehow this irritant, this aggressive grain of grit, inserted itself into your shoe and your life.

You’re too busy or too distracted—or too lazy—to deal with it. That would require a multistep process, after all. Stop, bend over, untie shoe, take out rock, put shoe back on, tie shoe. Who has time for that? So you spend the rest of the day limping around. Periodically you stop and tap your shoe sideways on the ground in hopes the rock will dislodge and slide into a less uncomfortable place in your shoe.

That tiny stone, practically invisible, might as well be a boulder. It begins to rule your life. It dominates your thoughts. You don’t want to stand or walk because subconsciously you know it will be waiting for you. You find yourself getting irritable and grumpy. You question the meaning of life and the existence of God. You start to harbor bitter thoughts toward rocks and cliffs and anything remotely stone-like. You consider running away from the pain and angst of life and moving to a cabin in Montana.

Finally you can’t take it anymore. You take twelve seconds out of your life to remove the rock. Then you slide your shoe back on and stand up. Inside, you brace yourself in case nothing has changed. But the rock is gone, and the feeling of relief is palpable. It’s massive. It’s like you got a new lease on life. You wonder, Why didn’t I stop to take that out hours ago? Good question. When it comes to our walk with God, something similar can happen. Without realizing it, small issues can work their way between God and us. Unresolved issues start to steal our joy and ruin our peace. They keep us from enjoying our walk with God like we should. Yes, we still love God. Yes, our relationship with him is the best part of life. We aren’t going to give up on God anytime soon. But the underlying, unresolved issues need to be addressed. These figurative rocks in our shoes can be many things. For example, maybe we had an expectation in a particular area of need in our lives. We prayed, we believed—and nothing happened. We feel like God let us down. Every time we try to believe for the future, there are nagging doubts in our minds. Maybe God isn’t good. Maybe he isn’t watching out for me. Maybe he doesn’t care. Or it could be an area of sin in our lives, a temptation that keeps getting the best of us. We know it’s wrong, and we want to change. We’ve tried and failed and tried and failed again. We live with a sense of guilt, and it spoils our relationship with God. If that’s you, I’m not trying to minimize your struggle or your pain. I’m not going to tell you that it’s as easy to fix as taking off your shoe and shaking out the offending pebble. And it’s certainly going to take longer than twelve seconds. But I do want to say that in any relationship, a certain amount of confusion, miscommunication, and even offense is normal. Peace doesn’t mean avoiding all pain and misunderstanding. Peace is a lifestyle. It’s a relationship. It’s a commitment. Peace isn’t so much absence of conflict as it is quick, consistent conflict resolution. Peace with God is about walking through the good times and the bad, knowing that no matter what happens or how confusing things are, he is committed to our well-being. God doesn’t get his feelings hurt when we don’t understand his decisions. And he doesn’t get frustrated with us when we can’t seem to get the victory over a character defect or temptation. God is bigger than that. He’s more committed to us than that.

Paul pointed out that peace with God doesn’t mean lack of difficulties—but it does mean we can have faith in his love for us.

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us . . . We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 5:1–5)

If there is anything hindering our walk with God, it’s probably easier to deal with than we realize. But the answer isn’t to ignore the pebble and just hope it will go away. It’s to go to God with transparency and trust and make our peace with him. Maybe you need to take time to address some issues between yourself and God. Issues of disappointment, of guilt, of fear, of doubt. Don’t wait any longer. Don’t limp through life, trying to ignore the fact that things between you and God aren’t as comfortable as they could be. God offers you true peace with him. You’ll be amazed how quickly God can bring healing to your heart and how fulfilling life is when the rocks are removed.

Excerpt From

Life Is _____ Forty-Day Experience

Judah Smith



The God Who Provides

The God Who Provides

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide.

—GENESIS 22:13–14

One day God instructs Abraham to take his young son to a mountain and sacrifice him on an altar. If God asked me to do the same thing to one of my sons, I’m afraid it would be the end of the line in my journey of obedience. I couldn’t fathom following through with a command like this. But apparently Abraham has more faith than I do. He doesn’t know exactly how God is going to turn this one around, but after his long life of seeing God act, he declares, “God himself will provide the lamb” (verse 8).

Before you get to the peak of provision, you must be found faithful in the valley of decision. #sunstandstill

Just as Abraham is about to plunge the knife into Isaac, the Lord intervenes to stop him, explaining that Abraham has passed the test. Immediately there it is: a ram caught in a thicket. This is the material provision Abraham has been yearning for—much more than anybody ever wanted employment, a secure retirement, or money for hospital bills. God has made a way to save the life of his son. On the spot Abraham names the hill where he is standing Yahweh Yireh, or “The LORD Will Provide.”

There will never be a shortage in God’s supply. There might only be a shortage in “our capacity to believe Him. God has blessed me materially many times. I call these “peaks of provision. But do you know what I’ve figured out? Before every peak of provision, there’s a valley of decision. Like Abraham, each of us has to decide if we’ll trust God and follow what He’s telling us.

Maybe right now you’re stuck in your life because God has you in the valley of decision. If you’ll walk through the valley and obey Him—no matter how hard it seems right now—He will bring you to a peak on the other side. Before you get to the peak of provision, you must be found faithful in the valley of decision. When you get to the mountain, you’ll be able to look back to the place God brought you from and say, “The Lord has provided.” And you’ll be able to worship Him as the all-sufficient God.

PRAYER FOCUS: If you’re in need of provision from God, ask His help to trust Him more in the valley of decision where you find yourself today.

Excerpt From

Sun Stand Still Devotional

Steven Furtick



The Road Not Taken

“The Road Not Taken”

Do you have a dream job? By “dream job” I’m not talking about something you seriously intend to do, though. I’m thinking more of a fantasy occupation. Something you would only consider in an alternate universe where you didn’t have bills to pay or kids to feed or retirement to plan for. It’s something totally different from what you actually do, but you know if you did it, you’d love it and you’d be really good at it.

I do. I could totally see myself as a personal shopper. In case you don’t know what that is, it’s a person who puts together outfits for people who don’t like to shop or maybe don’t have time to shop—using their credit cards. I have no immediate plans to give up pastoring and speaking, in case you were wondering. I love what I do. But sometimes I still wonder, What if? What if I had gone into fashion? What would it be like to have taken a different path in life? To have made different choices? If we are honest with ourselves, we live a lot of our lives under the seductive sway of what if. I don’t mean that we are bitter, angry, regretful people—I don’t regret becoming a pastor at all. Becoming a personal shopper isn’t my backup plan in case this whole pastoring thing doesn’t work out. I just mean that sometimes we spend a lot of time second-guessing ourselves. Wondering about what it would be like if we had made different choices. Wishing we could go back in time and try it again.

There is a place for evaluating the past, of course. If we make mistakes, we should learn from them. That’s wisdom. Our mistakes are some of our best teachers. And yes, the future is to some extent under our control. I’m not advocating that we forget where we came from or lose focus on where we are going. Please don’t misunderstand me here. But we can only live in today. The past is gone and the future is not guaranteed. We have to make the most of each moment, and we can’t do that if we are constantly looking back and wondering if we should have taken a different path. The poet Robert Frost wrote this in his poem “The Road Not Taken.” I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. The poem is a commentary on the power of choice. Our decisions might seem small in the moment, but they direct our lives. Someday we’ll look back on them and see the difference they made. But right now, we can’t see everything that lies down the road. And that fact can either stress us out or make us lean completely on God. It’s our choice.

Paul referenced the past-present-future components of life in this well-known passage on peace:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6–7)

He said “tell God what you need” (future) and “thank him for all he has done” (past). The result will be an ongoing experience of God’s peace in the present. Sometimes I think we are too quick to assign labels to our choices. We make a decision, then something unexpected happens and all of sudden we think that we blew it. We label it a bad decision and kick ourselves for being so dumb. But often, we simply don’t know. Even when we think we do. We might not know if a particular choice was a mistake or a win for years. Maybe not ever. A better approach would be to look at the past and thank God for it. Even the tough parts. Even the mistakes and the pain. Not out of some masochistic idea that God wants us to suffer, but out of a recognition that God is so big and so good and so completely sovereign that he takes even our blunders and uses them for our good. One of the keys to living in peace is being able to rest in the fact that even in our freewill choices, God still takes care of us.

I know there are consequences for our actions. We shouldn’t flippantly sin or purposefully make poor choices. I think we all agree on that. But if we think that every tiny choice is going to have eternal, unalterable, and possibly fatal consequences in our lives and the lives of those around us, the word paranoid won’t even begin to describe us. We will live under the constant shadow of what if, and it will steal our hope and our faith for the paths we’ve chosen.

Spending too much time second-guessing the past can keep us from changing things that need to be changed right now. Our insecurity about our decisions makes us hold on to things that are no longer working, because we think changing them would be admitting to failure. But again—who’s to say it was a failure? Maybe it was perfect for the moment, but it’s time to move on. And if your new decision or path doesn’t work down the road, change it again. Or even go back to the first path.

Whatever you do, do it fully convinced that God is guiding your steps, even if you don’t see him or sense him. Your future is in his hands, so his peace can permeate your present.

Questions for Reflection

• Do you second-guess your decisions very often? Why or why not?

• How can you learn from your mistakes without constantly living in the past?

• How does being grateful for your past help you have peace in your present and faith for your future?

Excerpt From

Life Is _____ Forty-Day Experience

Judah Smith



God is Good

“God Is Good”

Praise the LORD, O my soul,

and forget not all his benefits—

who forgives all your sins

and heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit

and crowns you with love and compassion.

—PSALM 103:2–4

It’s one thing to acknowledge that God is great, What sets the Christian faith apart is an unrelenting hope in the fact that God is good. That fact was settled once and for all on the Cross. And it’s really good news. After all, what good is infinite power if you have no access to it? Yes, God does whatever He desires. Thankfully, what He desires is to make His power and resources available to you, and He wants them to pour forth in abundance from your life. God’s goodness means that all of His greatness is intended to work in your life for your good. Not necessarily your momentary happiness. But your ultimate good. Romans 8:28 says, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” That isn’t a statement of probability. It’s a revelation of the unchanging character of God. Good describes what God has been, is, and will always be doing. That fact was settled once and for all on the Cross. And it’s really good news. After all, what good is infinite power if you have no access to it? Yes, God does whatever He desires. Thankfully, what He desires is to make His power and resources available to you, and He wants them to pour forth in abundance from your life.

God’s goodness means that all of His greatness is intended to work in your life for your good. Not necessarily your momentary happiness. But your ultimate good. Romans 8:28 says, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” That isn’t a statement of probability. It’s a revelation of the unchanging character of God. Good describes what God has been, is, and will always be doing. The problem is, pain and struggle can color the lens through which we view God’s activity in our lives. We can easily lose track of the truth. And in that state of emotional haze, it won’t be long before the goodness of God begins to seem like a lie.

“Whatever your past performance or present struggle, God is with you to help, save, and heal. #sunstandstill”

But look back over your life and remember. No matter what you’ve been through or are going through, God has been good to you. You’re here. You’re alive. You’re breathing. He has let you see another day. And He has brought you to today’s devotional time with a sincere desire for you to experience more of Him.

He has been good to you.

And when you remember that fact, it changes the way you see your challenges. That’s what David is doing in Psalm 103. He could focus on his failures. Instead, he remembers and focuses on God’s forgiveness. He could focus on his diseases. Instead, he remembers and focuses on how God has been able to heal them. He could focus on the pain of the pit. Instead, he remembers and focuses on the fact that God has pulled him out of it. Difficulties are going to come. Walking with God sometimes means walking through trials. But instead of focusing on your situation, remember God’s goodness. Let it permeate your thoughts and emotions in your quiet time with God today. Because whatever your past performance or present struggle, God is with you to help, save, and heal. He will, because He is a good God.

PRAYER FOCUS: Spend time today remembering God’s goodness in your life and thanking Him for it.

Excerpt From

Sun Stand Still Devotional

Steven Furtick



River of Life pt 2

RIVER OF LIFE PART 2 

Ezekiel 47:10-12

10 Fishermen will stand along the shores of the Dead Sea. All the way from En-gedi to En-eglaim, the shores will be covered with nets drying in the sun. Fish of every kind will fill the Dead Sea, just as they fill the Mediterranean.11 But the marshes and swamps will not be purified; they will still be salty. 12 Fruit trees of all kinds will grow along both sides of the river. The leaves of these trees will never turn brown and fall, and there will always be fruit on their branches. There will be a new crop every month, for they are watered by the river flowing from the Temple. The fruit will be for food and the leaves for healing.”

Wherever the RIVER OF LIFE flows, there will be life. This river we’re talking about is God’s word, God’s love, God’s grace, God’s mercy, and God’s wholeness. Where God’s word is wet out, it will not return to Him void. His word and love will change things form death to LIFE. Believe and trust Him, for His grace and mercy is for all. Wherever this river flows, wholeness exists.

When our focus is God and His love for us, we grow. But we don’t grow to die, we grow to live. “We are in Him and He is in us” so wherever He is, there is fullness and abundance. We will continue to grow in God and we will begin to produce good fruits, (love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness). These characteristics will grow even more in us as we are continuously watered by the RIVER OF LIFE (GOD AND HIS WORD). Remain at the River (IN CHRIST) and our roots will grow stronger. 



The Power of Being Positive


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Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-38 ESV

Think about your day… now think about how many times you recognized the bad things that happened today. The weather was awful (in our area) so that’s something to bring you down… but what else happened? Did your work today go unrecognized? Did someone pull out in front of you on your way home? Did you want to cry when you saw how much groceries actually cost? Did you get a bill that you don’t know how you’re going to pay?

Now think back to all the good things that happened today? The simple, small, acts of kindness. Did someone let you in front of them in the grocery store because you had far less than they did in their cart? Was the woman (or man) in the drive-thru polite and kind to you? Did someone hold the door for you so you could get out of the rain faster? Did someone say “God Bless You” when you sneezed?

I know, for myself, if a tractor trailer pulls out in front of me or cuts me off and they have a “how’s my driving” sticker on the back of their truck, I’m the first person to call that number and complain. But when someone is genuinely doing a good job, I don’t bother picking up the phone to compliment that driver. Or when I go to get something to eat, and the waiter/waitress is unkind, I am the first to ask for a manger. But when they are genuinely great, I typically wont’ ask for the manager to compliment their service. This is a habit that I really need to break…

How many times in life do we focus on the negative rather than counting our blessings? The quoted message above tells about a woman that gave everything she had to the Lord, even in her poverty, she gave what she had. This scripture doesn’t seem to speak of a woman that focused her energy entirely on the negative things in her life, but rather trusted in the Lord enough to give everything she had to him.

I challenge you today (and this week) to focus on the positive things that happen in your day to day life… the little things. Start being thankful to the Lord and to the kind people that still exist in the world. And when someone is polite or kind, make sure to thank them. I promise you, if you put your focus on the positive thoughts and positive thing that happen, (no matter how small), eventually these things will build up and you won’t be able to put your time and energy into the negative anymore.

Prayer for this week:

Lord, let us not focus our energy on the things of this world that were intended to harm us. Rather, let us focus our eyes on you, the author and finisher of our faith. Help us to see the many great things you give us each and every day, so that in everything, we can be thankful.
 
Praise Song of the Week:
Chain Breaker – Zach Williams
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGYjKR69M6U