Weird: Sexuality Devotional (Day 3 of 5)

Weird: Sexuality – Day 3 of 5

One look at television advertisements or one listen to a popular radio station will quickly show that our culture is obsessed with sex. It’s idolized in books, magazines, movies, TV, music, and so on. Sadly, most of what we see and hear would be considered sinful, or against God’s standards.

For example, reading through the New Testament, one will discover a number of sins that are to be avoided. But in the majority of these passages, one specific sin is mentioned more than any other – sexual immorality. (Examples include Romans 13:13, 1 Corinthians 5:1, 6:13, Galatians 5:19, Ephesians 5:3, Colossians 3:5, and 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, among others). Some passages, such as 1 Corinthians 6:18 call for us to flee, or run from sexual immorality.

Read: Romans 13:13, 1 Corinthians 5:1, 6:13, Galatians 5:19, Ephesians 5:3, and Colossians 3:5, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8,

Questions to Consider:

  • What do you think it means to flee from sexual immorality?
  • What steps does somebody need to take in order to flee from sexual immorality?
  • What, specifically, is God asking you to do as a result of these passages?

Prayer: Father, Your Word clearly shows that as a follower of Jesus, I am to flee from sexual immorality. I pray that You will reveal to me any immorality that I may have in my thoughts or actions. In fact, today I would like to confess to you that some of my thoughts and actions have gone against Your desires for me. I pray for Your forgiveness, and I ask for Your wisdom in identifying anything else in my life that leads me away from Your desires. Amen.

Weird: Sexuality Devotional (Day 2 of 5)

Weird: Sexuality – Day 2 of 5:

Outside of marriage, sex offers temporary satisfaction, but never fulfillment. Within a marriage, sex is physical, emotional and spiritual in a sense that it reflects the closeness of the relationship of Jesus and His bride, the church (See Ephesians 5:31-32). But outside of marriage, sex is often thought of only as physical pleasure. It brings temporary joy, but without the emotional and spiritual connection, a void remains. Therefore, the Christian view of sex may seem weird to others, but it’s different in a good way, as it’s the only view that bring true fulfillment to one’s desires and needs.

Read: 1 Corinthians 7:1-5; Ecclesiastes 9:9; Song of Songs 6:2-3.

Questions to Consider:

  • Have you ever thought of the difference between being fulfilled vs. being temporarily satisfied?
  • Why do you think God designed sex so that fulfillment can only be experienced within marriage? Explain.

Prayer:

For those married: God, I confess today that I’ve never thought of the difference between being fulfilled vs. being satisfied. I pray that you will help my spouse and I to see and understand one another’s needs, and that we will do our best to truly fulfill one another. Most of all, I simply pray that you will continue to help me see that the sexual aspect of my marriage is a reflection of the relationship Jesus has with me, and I’m thankful for passages that bring this truth to light. Amen.

For those unmarried: God, I acknowledge that I don’t often think about the difference between fulfillment and satisfaction. Though I’m not currently married, I pray that I will continue to find my fulfillment in You and Your Word above all things, and that you will send others into my life to encourage me to only engage in sex after marriage. I pray all this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Weird: Sexuality Devotional (Day 1 of 5)

Weird: Sexuality – Day 1 of 5

People have been celebrating sex for thousands of years. In the Old Testament, other nations celebrated sex by worshiping their gods. They believed that the more they engaged in sex, the more rain they would receive for their crops. In the New Testament, prostitution was often public, as many believed that sex was nothing more than an appetite (1 Corinthians 6:12-20).

The Bible, however, indicates that sex ought to be celebrated as something created by God. In fact, the very first command God gave Adam and Eve after creation was – have sex! While this passage and many others show that it is to be experienced only within the context of marriage, it is noteworthy that God has designed it not only for procreation (Genesis 1:28), but also for play and pleasure (Song of Songs 2:8-17; 4:1-5:1).

Read: Song of Songs 2:8-17 and 4:9-5:1; Proverbs 5:19

Questions to Consider:

  • What, if anything, would be weird (different in a good way) about Christians beginning to celebrate sex, as something created by God to bring play and pleasure into marriage?
  • Do you think passages such as these should be discussed more often in churches today? Explain.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I acknowledge that openly discussing or even thinking about sex as a part of your creation may be new to me. I pray that throughout the week, Your Word will open my eyes to think about this subject in the ways that You think about it. I ask that you will root out any negative thoughts I may have, and help me to better understand your intentions for the sexual relationship within marriage. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

.  .  .  .  .

If you would like to download a PDF of each week’s devotional, you can do do so here.

Weird: Religion Devotional (Day 5 of 5)

Weird: Religion – Day 5 of 5

One of the things God has called each of us to do is to share our faith with others. It seems ‘Weird’, but God invites everybody who has sinned against Him, to speak for Him, sharing the Gospel Message with others.

Read: John 3:16-17, John 14:6, Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9, and 5:1.

Question to consider: Who is one person I can share my faith with? Write down a time you will meet with them to do so.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I recognize that You have not only called me to set aside my old life, but You desire me to share with others the new life I have in Christ Jesus. Admittedly, I’m a bit nervous to do so. That said, I know that I know others who do not yet have a relationship with You. This week, I pray for opportunities to share my story with those who may not know You. Prepare their hearts for the message You would have me to share with them. These things I pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Weird: Religion Devotional (Day 4 of 5)

Weird: Religion – Day 4 of 5

Everybody knows the story of David and Goliath. Goliath, a huge warrior mocks God’s chosen people, and the soldiers of Israel were terrified to stand in his presence. But David, a young shepherd with no military experience, is willing to stand in battle against Goliath. David had seen and heard Goliath mock the armies of the living God, and David responds to Goliath, boldly declaring that God will defeat him. When the battle was over, the men of Israel overtook the Philistine army. It was a battle they should not have won. But David’s trust in God carried them to victory.

 

Read: 1 Samuel 17

 

Question to consider: Many times we move out into life thinking we cannot truly overcome the situations before us. But the story of David and Goliath reminds us that trusting God can and will lead to victory. Are you trusting God to help you overcome the challenges you’re facing today?

 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I acknowledge that far too often I trust myself, instead of fully putting my trust in You. Today I want to again confess my sins of _____________________. While these sins sometimes overwhelm me, I know that by bringing them to You and entrusting them with You, they will no longer overwhelm me, but may instead be used by You to help me become the person You have made me to be. And this is my prayer today, that You will continue to show me the person You have made me to be. Amen.

Weird: Religion Devotional (Day 3 of 5)

Weird: Religion – Day 3 of 5

Nobody knows for certain why Paul wrote his letter to the Colossians. However, one thing seems very clear: the people there were not following God in the ways they should. Earlier in the letter, Paul writes about who Jesus is (see Colossians 1:15-20). And in Chapter 3 he writes about the new life we have in Christ. All who have a relationship with Him have died to our old life, and now we must live the life God has called us to live.

To the Colossians, he writes about all the things they used to do, and how they must set those things aside to be the people God has called them to be.

Read: Colossians 3:1-17

Question to consider: Colossians 3 provides a challenging list of things Paul says we should have nothing to do with. These include, sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed, anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, dirty language, and lying. Which of these do you find most prevalent in our culture today? Which of these do you personally struggle with the most? What is God inviting you to do to rid yourself of this struggle?

Prayer:

God, I confess that the one thing I struggle with the most is ______________. As I go through this day, this week, and even this month, I pray that you would continue to reveal to me the life You have called me to live.

Mid-Week Challenge: Memorize Colossians 3:14 – Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

Weird: Religion Devotional (Day 2 of 5)

Weird: Religion – Day 2 of 5

In Ephesians 4, the Apostle Paul writes about not living as Gentiles do. A ‘Gentile’ in the Bible is somebody who was not of Jewish background. In Ephesians 4, Paul is saying that we are not to live in the same way as those who are not following God.

The Gentiles way of living would have been considered the ‘normal’ way of living. But Paul essentially says to not live in that way, which leads to confusion, but to live in a ‘Weird’ way instead.

Read: Ephesians 4:17-32

Question to Consider: Compare Ephesians 4:17-32 with Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7. What similarities do you see? What are some things mentioned in Ephesians that are not specifically mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 7?

Prayer: Father, it doesn’t take long for me to look around and see how it is that Gentiles live. As I go about my day today, give me the strength and the courage to continue living differently. My desire is not to live a life of confusion, but to instead live a life of clarity. And I ask that You give me clarity to live in the ways You desire. Amen.

Weird: Religion Devotional (Day 1 of 5)

Austin: “Hey, what’s that you’re listening to?”

Michael: “Oh, it’s nothing really.”

Austin: “C’mon, what is it?”

Michael: “My family and I were out of town over the weekend, so I’m just listening to the weekend message from our church. It’s quite fascinating really, it’s about…”

Austin: “I don’t know why you bother with that stuff. I mean, all that stuff about God, and Jesus and…. I mean C’mon, you really believe there’s some magic man in the sky that watches over us?”

Michael: “Well, I don’t believe he’s magic. But yes, I do believe in God.”

Austin: “And what was the message about this weekend?”

Michael: “I’m only a little ways into it. But it’s about being weird.”

Austin: “Well going to church is weird.”

Michael: “Some may think so. But the pastor defined weird as being different, but different in a good way. It’s living life in a way that other people respect, and admire, and appreciate, and …”

Austin: “Well, we obviously have disagreements about some things. But I can say that I generally do respect and appreciate you as a person. But ‘Christians’ in general, they leave a pretty sour taste in my mouth. They never get along – just look at how many different denominations there are. And they bicker about things politically more than anybody else I know. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Michael: “Oh?”

Austin: “Well yeah. They’re just as judgmental as others. They’re just as temperamental as others. The divorce rate among Christians is about the same as the rest of culture. There’s not much that’s different-in-a-good-way about Christians from what I can see.”

Michael: “Fair enough. But of all the Christians you DO know, do you see much that is different about them – different in a good way?”

Austin: “Like I said, I really appreciate and respect you. How you conduct yourself here in the office is quite admirable. But when I think about most other Christians I know, I would have to say, no.”

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In Matthew 7, Jesus invites us to live in a way that would be considered ‘Weird’ by many. He says things such as, “Don’t judge others. Don’t view yourself and your actions as better than others. Always want the best for others. Do for others what you would want them to do for you. And those who follow these words are wise.”

But there’s more to it than that. Much more.

Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV) says, 13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Questions to consider:

Do you have any friends or family who have similar thoughts as Austin?

Is there anything else about God and/or Christianity they dislike that Austin didn’t mention?

Where do you think Christianity is failing the most? In other words, why do you think Christ-followers are not seen as being different in a good way?

Read Matthew 7. Are you currently experiencing a life challenge that makes it difficult for you to live differently, in a good way?

Does Jesus teach anything in Matthew 7 that describes how you can respond to this challenge in a way that leads to life, and not destruction?

Prayer:

God, as we begin this new series, I pray that You will clearly show me how I can better stand out among those I know. Provide me wisdom to stand out to my family. My friends. And all of my co-workers, classmates, or teachers. Lead and guide me to live out the principles Jesus teaches in Matthew 7. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

preparing for easter (part 2)

Over the past 48 hours or so, there’s been a flurry of news and social media chatter about a “Religious Freedom” bill that passed in the state of Indiana. Advocates for the bill are shouting one thing, and those rallying against the bill are shouting another. There have been threats to burn down businesses, threats to ban sporting events in the state, and much more. More interestingly, the word ‘tolerance’ has been used by both those for and those against the law. Sadly, few are offering any real solutions.

Why did I bring this up? Well, it’s not to get into my personal thoughts on the law or the state of culture in the U.S. Perhaps that’ll come another time.

Instead, I share this as a simple follow-up to the post I made a few days ago. It was then that I offered a simple challenge – give up reading and/or watching the news throughout the week of Easter and instead, use that time to read through the Gospel of John. (And oh, just in case you’re wondering how I know what’s been happening in the news, it’s because I slammed through the Gospel of John rather quickly!)

It seemed like such a simple challenge, yet it impacted me a bit more than I ever would’ve anticipated.

As I finished reading through the Gospel of John, I quickly came to a couple of different conclusions as a result. One is that I apparently spend too much time reading through news articles. Articles which, as mentioned before, don’t provide a great deal of information, but are written to make the reader excited or angry about something. The ‘news’ regarding the Religious Freedom bill in Indiana as well as the comments being made about it throughout social media is proof positive!

A second conclusion is that the Gospel of John is just as fascinating to me today as it was the first time I read through it. By my count, the word ‘believe’ is used 83 times. The general sense of the term means to believe or trust that Jesus was the Messiah sent from God. In fact, John specifically says that he wrote the book so that people would believe in Jesus.

But in my reading, it was John 17 that really stood out. It’s here that Jesus Himself takes the opportunity to pray for all who do believe in Him. He prays, specifically, that they will be one just as He and the Father are one. And this is where things get interesting.

This weekend, Billions of people around the world are going to join together in worship. Think about that for just a minute. Not hundreds, or thousands. But BILLIONS of people will worship Jesus this weekend. That’s just amazing.

And Jesus’ prayer for them was that they would join together as one. Some will have grown up Methodist, and others Baptist. Some Catholic, and others Lutheran. Some may be advocates for a Religious Freedom bill, and others against. But their religious background or denomination isn’t what really matters, nor are their differing opinions in politics. What really matters is Jesus. His desire was that all who believe would come together under the banner of His name, and that they would simplify life by focusing their energies on loving God and loving others.

Maybe we as believers in Jesus can all continue to learn from His prayer. Maybe we’ll all come to realize we spend too much time reading through news. Maybe we’ll all come to see that far too often we share our opinions on things that don’t really matter. Maybe we’ll all come to see that far too often we focus more of our energies on our differences than our similarities.

And maybe this weekend, we’ll remember His prayer…and we’ll worship Him as one.

 

preparing for easter

newspaperReading the national and international news has been somewhat of a hobby of mine for a number of years. I’ve always enjoyed being ‘in the know’ with world events. But over the past few years, a pattern in the news has become readily apparent to me. That pattern is that I’m not actually reading ‘news’. Instead, I’m clicking on images with short pieces of information that are written in such a way to get me excited or angry about something. In fact, I can probably summarize the news for the next year or more in just a few sentences. Are you ready? OK, here it goes…

Politicians don’t get along. Most media outlets won’t cover real atrocities occurring internationally, because if they did, Washington politicians would have to find a way to get along and do something about it. But they don’t. And probably won’t anytime soon.

That’s it. That, right there, is a summary of what you’ll watch and read about in the news for the next year or more. It’ll continue to be called ‘news’ but there’s little actual information available. But information will be shared to get you excited or angry about something. Something that, in reality, you have little control over. Something that may have little to do with how well you’re able to grow in loving God and loving others.

Where was I going with this? Oh, right…

This week I would like to propose a news challenge for you. It’s one I really hope you take me up on.

This week, use all the time you would normally take watching or reading the news, and instead, take the opportunity to read through the Gospel of John. And don’t just read through it, but take note as to how many times the word believe (or believes, belief, etc.) are used. And yes, I’m serious. Do your best to keep track of exactly how many times it’s used.

“Why should I do that,” you ask?

Well, because the Gospel of John talks about the significance of belief more than any other book in the Scriptures. In fact, John writes about the importance of believing in God/Jesus more than the other 3 Gospels combined. Reading the Gospel of John will help you to question, and at the same time, affirm what you really believe.

IMG_0034Not only that, but this upcoming Sunday is Easter Sunday. And Easter is THE news story that never goes away. Nearly 2,000 years ago, something happened that’s still being talked about today. People have been imprisoned for sharing it. Others beaten. Some have been beheaded or even crucified upside-down for sharing this news.

It’s the Good News that Jesus came to us as God in the Flesh. He lived the life we should have lived. Died the death we should have died. Yet rose from the grave, defeating sin and death so that we can know God on a deep, personal level.

And reading through the Gospel of John is one, simple way you can prepare for Easter. You can read it so that you’re better prepared to worship Him for what He’s done. And maybe you’ll even have the opportunity to share this news with others.

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Other than reading through the Gospel of John, what’s one thing you will do this week to prepare for Easter?

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