Summer Devotional Series: The Anguish of Necessity

What I’m Listening to: Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue by Crystal Gayle

Before we start discussing this week’s message, it’s important to get one thing out of the way immediately: we are not saved by our works. We’re not. We’re saved by God’s infinite grace:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–

~Ephesians 2:8 (NIV)

However, knowing that because of our belief we are saved, in spite of anything we could possibly do, should not lull us into a state of complacency. It should not make us shrug our shoulders and think we are doing good enough. Because while we can’t save ourselves or anyone else, our actions can influence others, can help others.

if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

~ Romans 12:8 (NIV)

I’m not saying this in order to make anyone feel like nothing short of quitting their job and becoming a full time missionary is good enough, but rather that it’s important to be open to opportunities to help those in need. To do make the difference we are being called to make.

Prayer Prompt: Ask the Lord to show you places where you can make an impact, not for your own glory, but for God’s.

Peace,

KJ

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Summer Devotional Series: The Importance of Consistency

What I’m listening to: Write This Down by George Strait

Somehow it seems easier to get to church in the winter. I think that as a culture we are more scheduled outside of the summer months. School is in session, people are saving up their vacation days, and there’s a sense of regulation that seems to dog us all.

In the summer it is easier to cast off our responsibilities and “have fun”, going out on the weekends, going on vacation, and just generally hanging out and relaxing. Now far from it for me to say that any of these activities are inherently “bad” or disloyal to the Lord. Many verses in the Bible discuss the importance of rest, with the beginning of Psalm 23 perhaps being one of the most iconic:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

~ Psalm 23:1-3 (NIV)

However, it is important to note that, as seen above, God wants us to find rest in Him. When He talks about rest, He doesn’t just mean for our physical bodies, He wants us to experience the spiritual rest one can only find through spending dedicated time with Him. Meaning we shouldn’t prioritize our summer fun over our relationship with God. That we don’t skip church to sleep off our Saturday night, or forget to read our Bible when we go on vacation, or make extra excuses to do things we know we shouldn’t do. We must remember that being a Christian is not a hobby, it’s our life. We’re running a race, and Jesus is waiting for us at the finish line.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

~ 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (ESV)

God made the seasons, but it’s our responsibility to keep our eyes on the Kingdom without distraction, no matter the weather.

Prayer prompt: Ask that God would give you the conviction to stay consistent in your relationship with Him, and not to get caught up in the fleeting fun of summer to the extent that you lose sight of what is truly important.

Peace,

KJ

Cherry Blossom Festival!

What I’m listening to: Stay by Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs

I have to make a confession: I literally lived outside DC for over two years and I never went to see the cherry blossoms.

I know, I know, for shame! Finally however, I saw the error of my ways and went to go see them this weekend. They are every bit as beautiful as advertised, the blossoms make the monuments look so magnificent and more than a little dreamlike.

(P.S. Yes, the skirt of my dress has cherry blossoms embroidered on it, you know I couldn’t resist)

Peace,

KJ

Frustrations and Forgiveness

What I’m listening to: God Will by Johnny Cash

Do you ever work really hard on something that then doesn’t end up the way you want it to? You spend hours working on some project or craft and at the end you just look at it with despair and shove it in the back of a closet so you don’t have to be reminded of our own failure?

It can be easy to see no worth in something that doesn’t measure up to our highest expectations, to want to give up on it and move on.

It can be even easier to feel like God sees us this way, that this time we’ve been such a failure and disappointment that He is finally going to throw up his hands and throw us away.

Luckily for us this overwhelming frustration at something not being exactly the way we wanted it to turn out is a fully human view, and not one that God, in His limitless wisdom, shares.

Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.

~ Joel 2:13 (ESV)

He always sees the good in us, the worthiness in our worthlessness, and the potential, even at our worst, to be His very best.

Everything happens for a reason, it might not be our reason, but it’s always His. He has promised to always look out for us, always care for us, and to always be patient with us. As we head into this Easter season, isn’t that a wonderfully reassuring thought?

If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you–you of little faith?

~ Matthew 6:30 (NIV)

Prayer Prompt: Pray that God might cleanse you of your own focus on your feelings of failure or worthlessness, that you might focus on working for God and His kingdom instead.

Mini-post: A Presidential Hike

What I’m listening to: Down Under by Men At Work

It’s President’s Day! (Do you know how hard it is to come up with a President’s Day pun for the blog title? Impossible, so I just gave up). You know I didn’t give up on? Hiking! This weekend was a nearly-50-degrees break between snow showers, so I had to take advantage. Isn’t it pretty? The trout stream was empty but crystal clear.

Peace,

KJ

Be My Valentine?

What I’m listening to: Young Lady, You’re Scaring Me by Ron Gallo

Happy Valentine’s Day! I know, I know, I’m late, but if you ask me Valentine’s should be like Mardi Gras and last a good season or so. You guys know I love a good holiday, and in turn a good holiday outfit. This look certainly fits the prescription: hearts and ruffles and velvet and charms make me feel like a real-life valentine!

Peace,

KJ