Weekly Devotionals April 14 – April 20

MONDAY                                                         JOHN 17:20-26

What does being united in Christ mean for our lives?

In his longest recorded prayer in scripture, Jesus prays to God for unity in his disciples and in those who would come to believe in Jesus because of their witness. Our unity in God, in Jesus, and together as the church is not a result of our own good works. That unity is only possible through the work of Jesus and the continued work of the Holy Spirit. The problem is we are happier seeking uniformity above unity. We are more comfortable surrounded by people who look, talk, believe, worship, and vote like we do. In a world that thrives on division and is conditioned to separate due to differences, the unity of Jesus expressed in the church is quite possibly the greatest witness to the power of God in our world today.

Where do you see people’s willingness to divide/separate from others in our world?

Is there anything in you that pushes back against Jesus’ call for unity in him and in the church? Bring that to Jesus this morning. Ask him to illuminate any spirit of division that lies in you. Can he replace that with his spirit of peace?
 

 

TUESDAY                       LUKE 18:9-14

What stands in the way of my pursuit of being one in Christ?

It’s so much easier to pursue a religious life focused on knowing the right things or doing the right things than it is to pursue unity in Christ. Knowing and doing leaves us in control of our lives and gives us a scale to judge ourselves and others against a fixed and defined standard of righteousness. Pursuing oneness with Christ is the only pursuit that reveals the fullness of God found in Jesus and offered to us by the Holy Spirit. The Pharisee, from the outside looking in, has righteousness perfected. He knows the law and follows it faithfully, but it has failed to transform his heart. Instead, he has become prideful and judgmental. The tax collector, on the other hand, is well aware of his desperate need for forgiveness. Jesus tells us who is justified and in doing so reveals to us the posture of discipleship we are to take.

Why is it easier to center our faith in knowing and doing than on being IN Christ?

“Knowing” and “doing” aren’t bad, but they are insufficient as goals for our discipleship. True transformation is found in Christ alone. Where are you in need of Jesus today? Bring yourself to him right now. Bring yourself low that he may lift you up.

 

WEDNESDAY                                 JOHN 7:28-52

When do I know that I’m IN Christ?

We like defined destinations and goals. We like to know when we’ve arrived at wherever we’re trying to go. Is our discipleship any different? If following Jesus is focused on “knowing” and “doing” then we can eventually believe we have reached the end of our discipleship once we’ve learned and done enough. Our knowing can actually become a hindrance to our discipleship. The religious leaders doubted Jesus because he didn’t square with their understanding of the prophets. They were caught up in the details and what they knew about Jesus, and missed what he was revealing to them. Being IN Christ is less about our certainty and more about becoming. It’s submitting every day, moment, thought to Jesus in order to participate in the life of God.

How can you tell if you’re participating in the life of the Spirit or not?

What are some characteristics that signal to a life lived in participation with God? Where in your life are you striving for  what can only be found IN Christ? Lift that up to Jesus today. Hear his invitation to place your whole life in him.
 
 

THURSDAY          1 CORINTHIANS 1:26-31

What does it mean for my life to pursue life IN Christ?

Jesus’ first followers were not the best and the brightest or the most successful by human standards. This didn’t set the early church up for easy success in the eyes of others. It was, honestly, a terrible plan for immediate growth and expansion. God’s power is proved through empowering the foolish, the weak, and the lowly in this world to proclaim the good news of Jesus to the world. If our aim is to be IN Christ and to participate in the life of God, then we must take every other aspiration and goal we have in this life and surrender it to God. Every goal and aspiration becomes subservient to our ultimate end – being one IN Christ. What we find in return is the life that only Jesus can offer. What we receive is a renewed sense of purpose and calling. What we experience is a deeper joy and satisfaction than we could ever find outside of Jesus.

What goals or aspirations do you have in your life?

“It is because of God that you are in Christ Jesus.” The end that we seek in discipleship is only possible by God. Give thanks to him that what we ultimately seek, God is ready to give to you. You can trust him today.
 
 

FRIDAY                               EPHESIANS 4:1-6

Is being IN Christ only about me?

If the scriptures were translated into Texan dialect, we’d find that the majority of the “you”s in the Bible would be translated as “y’all”. God’s mission is not to transform a person, but a people. Participating in the life of God is a joy that we experience fully when we are connected to the body of Christ. Whether it is in Jesus’ prayer in John 17 or here in Ephesians, we find that oneness in Christ means oneness in the church. We are not called into a life of solitary faith, but a life of solidarity and unity with Christ’s church. This is not our work, but the work of Christ in us and through us. It is the calling of the church to bear witness by the power of the Spirit to God revealed in Jesus.

Which of the qualities in verse 2 is most difficult for you?

Is there anything that holds you back from fully participating in the life of the church? Bring your concerns to God. What does he want you to hear today? How is he inviting you to respond?
 
 

SATURDAY                           JOHN 15:1-4

Following Jesus requires us to stay connected to Jesus. Just as a branch dies if it becomes disconnected from a tree; our souls wither and dry when disconnected from Jesus.

The following pages provide you an opportunity to reflect back on your week and take into account where you have been connected and where you have been disconnected from Jesus. This isn’t just about your prayer life or scripture reading. This reflection will not change your life, but it can open a window to discovering areas of your life where Jesus is inviting you to grow. This is not meant to discourage you in any way, only to begin to become aware of your relationship with Jesus.

Ideally, this would be shared with someone you trust. We say a corporate prayer of confession when we prepare for communion, and we may even pray private prayers of confession and forgiveness to God. It is possible to do both of these practices and remain “alone in our sin” as Dietrich Bonhoeffer once put it. Being alone in our sin never frees us from the sinful habits we have created. James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” It may be uncomfortable to practice confession because we fear feeling guilty. Confession frees us from guilt by helping us experience grace and forgiveness that comes from Jesus. There is nothing like a life free from guilt, set free to follow Jesus wherever he leads. Begin by praying this prayer and spending a moment in silence to prepare your heart.

Prayer: Father God, As I look back upon my week, help me to be honest with myself and with you. I long to remain connected to Christ so that I may live in him. Guide me in these moments closer to your heart.


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