Daily Devotionals

Strengthening Our Walls
Jan 23, 2017

“…Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and the burned ones at that?”
— Nehemiah 4:2

Sometimes our lives become heaps of rubbish. What was once a beautiful, pristine wall of our own making turns into a pile of burned bricks of our own doing.

One of our worship leaders bravely, openly and vulnerably shared his failure with the c|Life congregation during his and his wife’s video testimony at the end of yesterday’s service. There were too many tears to count as we all sat and took it in. There were too many burned stones scattered about. Mine were among them.

We listened to how a church leader, a man of God, ignored his wall of protection. We listened to how he let his guard down and aided in destroying the wall meant to protect God’s provisions for him and to honor him as one set apart for the Lord. Then we heard how God remained faithful, yet required — and continues to require — very hard work to rebuild in his name.

Some of us were contemplating destroying our walls when we stopped to hear their story. Some of us were in the middle of destroying our walls when we paused to listen. Some of us were in the middle of picking up still warm, charred, scattered rocks when we broke to cry with them.

When Nehemiah and his people set out to rebuild the wall destroyed by the Chaldeans, they worked together side by side for 52 days, with spears in hand and guards posted. They protected their work and they protected each other from those who would prevent the rebuilding of this wall for God’s people.

May we, as the body of Christ, come together to fortify each other’s walls and rebuild them when necessary, using our stories to warn of pitfalls that can so easily lead us away from God’s perfect goodness and his holy grace. May we be the welcoming party with soot-covered hands for those who are seeking the Lord’s face.

May we never forget God’s unending mercy and grace poured out over us through his Son, Jesus Christ, so that we may be his masons, diligently working for the rest of our days.

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
— 1Peter 2:4-5

Daily Devotionals

Stepping Out
Jan 21, 2017

Do you remember that story in the Bible where the disciples are going across the sea of Galilee, and Jesus is seen walking on water? The disciples are freaked out because they have no idea who or what is coming towards them. At first, they assume it is a ghost. Immediately, Jesus reveals himself to the disciples to remove their fear. Then Peter makes an odd request for Jesus to confirm his identity by requesting that Peter get out of the boat. Jesus responds with one word , “Come,” and Peter is out of the boat.

I have often wondered about this passage and what was going through Peter’s mind. Why would Peter leave the safety of the boat for the uncertainty of the waves? Why would Peter leave many to follow one?

Ultimately, I think Peter wanted so desperately to please Jesus. I think Peter wanted to demonstrate that he had faith — enough faith to even walk on water. The problems began when the winds and the waves were bigger than Peter expected. His fear was greater than he imagined. Peter started looking at the waves and not at the one who calms the waves. Peter lost faith that Jesus was able to take care of the situation.

I think you and I are very much like Peter. We want so badly to please Jesus. We long to hear the words, “Well done good and faithful servant.” Yet we take our eyes off of him. We start looking at our situation crashing around us, and we get scared. We start to wonder if we can trust Jesus. Can Jesus provide in this situation?

When we step out in faith, we leave the security of our world, and we have to trust Jesus.

I don’t know what your metaphorical boat is, or where you find your safety. Maybe you find comfort in your retirement plan, your job, your family or your connections. Like the boat, these only appear to provide safety. Ultimately, God is our safety, and he is in control.

Today, maybe God is calling you to step out and trust him. For some of you, it may be your first time to step out and put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone. Not trusting in what you do or don’t do. Not trusting in what church you attend or how much money you tithe. But trusting in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation, for only he is able to save.

Daily Devotionals

A Powerful Progression
Jan 19, 2017

The first few chapters of Nehemiah show us some solid steps that led to Nehemiah’s success. There is a blueprint embedded in the story that can help us to bear good fruit as children of God.

1. Nehemiah had passion.

The first thing that jumps off the pages of Nehemiah to me is the fact that he had a great passion for the calling of God upon his life. He was passionate about the work at hand.

Just a casual interest in the issues that came to his attention would not have prompted him to action, but we see that Nehemiah wept, mourned, fasted and prayed for days about the condition of God’s people in Jerusalem. The passion allowed him to overcome obstacles along the way. His passion was greater than the hurdles in his way.

2. He prayed.

He did not go into this effort on his own. He boldly prayed for God’s help. He prayed that God would grant him success as he went before the king.

3. He planned.

You’ll notice in Nehemiah 2:4, after Nehemiah told the king the problem, the king asked him, “What is it you want?” We see in verses 7–8 that Nehemiah was prepared to answer that question. He had planned in advance and knew what he needed from the king as he started out on his quest. It would have been a short and unsuccessful meeting had Nehemiah not known the answer to the king’s important question. Nehemiah had planned and was prepared.

4. He proclaimed that his success was due to his God’s help.

…And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.
— Nehemiah 2:8

Do you feel led by God to a task? Nehemiah gives us a blueprint for success.

How passionate are you about that call? Just a casual interest will not take you far. You will need prayer as you begin to respond. You will need good planning. And we should always remember from where our spiritual victories come: from our God.

Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper…”
— Nehemiah 2:20

Daily Devotionals

Purpose, Process and Payoff
Jan 17, 2017

The waiting game: a game no one likes to play, but everyone will. The grocery store checkout line we get in is the fastest one until we roll our cart into it. No brake lights are glowing in the traffic to our right or left until we change lanes. Fast food, convenience stores and one-click buying at Amazon have all but erased such words as patience and perseverance from Merriam-Webster’s 470,000-word repertoire, but not from God’s.

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
— Lamentations 3:25–26

As pointed out in Sunday’s sermon, four months passed between Nehemiah’s appeal to God in Nehemiah 1:5–11 and his appearing before the king in chapter two. What went on in Nehemiah’s life during those four months? My guess is more prayer and more fasting.

Granted, compared to Abraham’s waiting more than 25 years before God would give him Isaac, or Israel’s 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, four months doesn’t seem long at all. But when you’re the one with the burden strapped to your back, like Nehemiah, four minutes can seem an eternity, right?

If you have been hanging out at c|Life very long, you might recall a sermon where we learned about the three Ps. We see them embedded here in Nehemiah’s journal: purpose, process and payoff.

Nehemiah recognized that God had a purpose in placing the burden of Hanani’s bleak report (Nehemiah 1:3) on his shoulders, and he was good with that. We should know there is a purpose in the crosses that we sometimes bear as well. Nehemiah also understood that between the purpose and the payoff was a process — a process that included another set of three Ps: prayer, patience and perseverance.

Standing before the king that spring day, Nehemiah was of a sad countenance, and that was risky business, seeing as he could lose his head. To be anything but jubilant in the king’s presence represented a breach of protocol that could have had severe consequences, but Nehemiah’s patient perseverance in prayer and waiting the previou four months paid off. He found favor both with God and the king, and things began to look up.

I don’t know where in life you may be right now, or what circumstance may find you out on a limb, uncertain if it can sustain you. But I do know that God knows, and he knows that what worked for Nehemiah will work for you: prayer, patience and perseverance.

They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
— Isaiah 40:31

Daily Devotionals

Where Do You Turn?
Jan 16, 2017

As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned.
— Nehemiah 1:4–6

So, Nehemiah receives word that the city walls have been broken down, and that his people are no long safe. He is scared, he might even be a little confused, but he knows that something needs to be done. And where is the first place he turns? He turns to God.

Where do you turn when all hope seems lost, and you feel like something needs to be done? When you feel like life is a mess, where do you turn?

Most of us try our best to do it on our own. What would it take for us to turn to God first? We live in a culture where everything around us tells us that we can do it on our own, but here’s the thing: we were never made to do it on our own! God didn’t design us to go through the rough times on our own. He designed us to need him.

God created us to turn to him with our problems, our issues, our hurts and our needs. We need to break whatever cultural norm that tells us to fix our problems on our own. Think about it. Who normally gets us into our messes? We do! So, don’t you think you need to focus more on the only one who can truly help you, and not the one who put you in the mess in the first place? Whenever you feel the need to work on yourself alone, remind yourself of God’s promises to you:

I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
— Psalm 18:1–2

I will never leave you nor forsake you.
— Hebrews 13:5

“Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for wthe Lord God is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.”
— Isaiah 12:2

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you…”
— 2 Corinthians 12:9

In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
— Proverbs 3:6

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
— Matthew 11:28

fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
— Isaiah 41:10

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
— Psalm 107:13

If you read through all of these, they’re not about doing it on your own, they’re truly about leaning on God. What makes all of this even more awesome is that, if you look at why you were created, it’s simple to lean on him and make him known. God isn’t going anywhere, and you can’t do enough bad things to push him away, so why not turn to him first?

God already knows what tomorrow brings, and he knows the struggles you will have. What’s great about all of that is he is there to bring comfort and peace, not because he will fix the mess, but because you know who is in control of your mess.

Coming Events

Financial Peace University - Sunnyvale
Every Tuesday, from 01/10/2017 to 03/07/2017, 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Financial Peace University is coming to c|Life! This nine-week class will help you learn how to: Become Debt Free Pay off your credit cards, car loans, mortgage, and ...

Financial Peace University - Kaufman
Every Tuesday, from 01/10/2017 to 03/07/2017, 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Financial Peace University is coming to c|Life! This nine-week class will help you learn how to: Become Debt Free Pay off your credit cards, car loans, mortgage, and ...

Financial Peace University - Forney
Every Thursday, from 01/12/2017 to 03/09/2017, 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Financial Peace University is coming to c|Life! This nine-week class will help you learn how to: Become Debt Free Pay off your credit cards, car loans, mortgage, and ...

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