James 1:26-27 Video Devotional

“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:26-27)

There are 3 churches in California filing suit against the Governor over the “right to congregate”. Pastors have been arrested for holding church services and some churches have been absolutely devastated by COVID-19 because they continued to hold services. As people begin to push and long to get back to normal life, this question and argument will only intensify. What to do?

I pose to you today the age old question for Christians – are my rights more important than someone else’s? Do I hold onto my rights or lay them down for another? We see Christ’s example in Philippians 2. Let me challenge you today that there is no righteous indignation toward China or the Wuhan province for the outbreak of this virus. What happened, happened and it does not one any good to dwell or blame.

Instead, I entreat you to pray for them – lift them up to God and ask that He would save them through Christ. Pray that He would use this pandemic for His glory and to spread His gospel across the globe. Pray that the gospel would be as contagious as COVID-19! Then ask how you can participate in the sufferings of Jesus – maybe there is something you don’t need (or a right you don’t need to hold on to) that can make it easier for someone else to meet Jesus.

Any thoughts? I would love to hear how you are processing this conundrum between getting back to normal life and staying extra cautious for the sake of others. Have a great afternoon!

Philippians 3:1-11 Video Devotional

“Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:1-11)

Paul certainly had the pedigree. As both a Hebrew Pharisee and a Roman citizen, there wasn’t much Paul couldn’t do or have access to. But that’s not the point. The point is, to Paul, none of that mattered. Sure, he used his citizenship to appeal to Caesar, but that was a strategic move on behalf of the gospel. It had nothing to do with his personal gain.

We all have certain things we hold tightly to; maybe it’s your rights as an American citizen, or your privilege as a person of wealth. Maybe it’s a famous family name, or long-standing reputation you’ve built. Whatever it is, it needs to be something that you hold with a loose hand. Until we give up ourselves, we can’t participate in Christ’s life – because it is a life of emptying oneself.

The rich, young ruler and the guy who wanted to bury his dead were holding on to things – keeping them to themselves and withholding them from Jesus. Are you? What if God asked you to give up all your money? Or your health? Or your free time? Maybe your freedoms as an American citizen (maybe He asks you to move to a more oppressive country)? Whatever it may be, we are called to count it all as loos for the sake of the gospel.

So I ask you today – is there anything you could NOT give up for the sake of the gospel or the calling of Jesus? Anything that would make you say – that’s too much? Giving it a name and saying it out loud could be a good first step in letting its power over you go. Have a blessed rest of your day!