June 30 – Names of Jesus – Lord Jesus Christ

Read Romans 13:14

As I read these words from Paul, I can’t help but think about our culture today. I reflect on how much stock people place on someone, based on the material appearance of the clothes they may be wearing, what jewelry may be shimmering from their wrists, what latest and greatest makeup and hair products they have. Our choices externally say a lot about us internally. Have you ever noticed that Paul uses the reference to “clothe” or “put on” in more than one section of his letters? There’s importance in who or what we portray. But, like everything, it starts with our heart.

Paul is instructing us of the timeless truth to clothe ourselves with the Lord, Jesus Christ; what do you think he is trying to tell us about this name of Jesus? And how does this affect us?

The Greek writing “to clothe” means to sink into; “Lord” means master or authority, “Jesus Christ” is meaning the Chosen One, the Messiah. Break each of these names apart and you have an entire manifestation of who Christ was, is and is to come!

His name of authority and master brings on a sense of ownership over us. We belong to Him, we are His. He is our master, He is our authority, He is our first, our last, He is our beginning and our eternity, and He is the head. He is our Lord. He is our Savoir.

Colossians 1:16-18 says it perfectly:

“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.”

When we put on the name “Lord, Jesus Christ”, we are not only representing our salvation story, we are representing the story that He wrote long ago. The story of His grace, the story of His power and the perfect love He portrayed on the cross rings out every time you proclaim His name.

So, my challenge to you is, when you proclaim the name of Christ, do it with a reverence that He deserves. You do it in humility. Clothe yourself with the character of Christ. A character that He would see and say “well done.” No matter where you stand in your faith journey, He is Lord, He is Jesus, He is our Christ.

Our Father, our Savior, our Authority. Above all else.

Kelly Lawson

Questions to consider:

  • What does this name of Jesus mean to you?
  • If you are honest with yourself, how much emphasis do you put into your outward appearance?
  • What would happen if we were to put as much emphasis on reflecting Christ to others around you?

June 13 – Enough – Patient Enough?

Read Romans 8:25

“If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too:

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise.”

Richard Kipling

The first part of the poem IF by Richard Kipling can help you deal with something that is difficult:

waiting.

Good things take time! If you are learning to play the piano, participating in a play or a musical or trying to get good at a new sport, it takes time. If you are trying to be patient enough with the people that you work with, it takes time. Patience is one of the greatest lessons we can learn. When you have a setback, do you have the grit and the patience of the king of the comebacks – Jesus Christ?

Patience has to be a mindset and a priority in both prayer and life.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up”Galatians 6:9

There is a proper time to reap, but often we lack the patience necessary to get there. Maybe we don’t wait long enough. The greatest reward may be the strength and determination that you can develop by waiting. If you plant a seed but keep uprooting it to check if it’s growing, you’ll never get the reward of a tree.

Consider Paul, while patiently enduring all types of persecution for the name of Christ, at the end of his ministry said:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day.”2 Timothy 4: 7

Being patient can help you to develop grit, perseverance, a love for others, avoiding excuses, learning from your mistakes, letting go (the hardest part of love), confidence and dignity (accept losing). Patience is a fruit of the spirit of Christ.

Are you patient enough with others? Being patient with people is an expression of love.

When one is suffering, the questions arises, “What can I do?” The Psalmist tells us there is something we can do—wait (Ps. 130:5–6). To wait is to trust in God. God is in control.

Being patient is an expression of hope in God. We wait while recognizing that God is in control.

“We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.” Proverbs 16:33

While you are waiting – whatever your situation – remember that God is on the throne. Have confidence;

“for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption”Psalm 130:7

Good things take time!

Tom Weckesser

April 20 – Grace – Abusing Grace

Read Romans 6:1-15

Have you ever had the opportunity to fly in first class? I had always peeked up there as I turned and went towards the very back of the plane (got to get those cheap seats, am I right?). Recently, a friend and I were upgraded to first class for an 18 hour international flight because of delays and a small plane crash (it’s a crazy story that I would love to tell you in person). So here we are, a couple of Joe Schmo’s, sitting among the elite class. I’m sitting next to a wealthy family who are all dressed to the nines and I’m sitting there with a t-shirt, athletic shorts and flip flops…not to mention I’m still sweating from running through the airport in Ethiopia to our missed flight’s gate. As my friend and I are soaking in the moment, I notice a menu that describes all these 5 course meals throughout the whole flight. “Yo, is this free?” I ask. “Jake,” my friend responds, “what you are about to experience for the next 18 hours is 100% free.”

It might as well have been Heaven.

We both ate so much on that flight. I mean, if all of this is available, I may as well take advantage of it, right? I even wore the little first class socks they gave you for the whole flight because why not? The blanket they offered you to sleep with was one of the most comfortable blankets I have ever felt. “Sir, would you like a hot towel?” “Um, I didn’t know that was a thing, but sure!” Refills, next courses, snacks and desserts…I had them all. I mean, it’s there, so why not take advantage of it? After all, it’s free!

Grace doesn’t work like first class flying.

Grace is such an incredible gift that is nothing even remotely close to what we deserve. Forgiveness and grace was given to us through the life, death and resurrection of Christ. It isn’t something to be taken lightly.

We all know those people who are living the “first class life” when it comes to their faith. Sin is almost excused because they know that their sins have already been paid for. I think about this now and think, “How on earth could someone abuse grace like that?” and then I remember that I was once a grace abuser. There was a period of my life where, sure I didn’t deliberately sin, but I asked for forgiveness and moved on. It almost wasn’t a big deal for me. Romans 6 is my favorite chapter of the entire Bible. It contains so much incredible material that I don’t have the space to write.  

Grace doesn’t work like first class flying.

Remember, we have been given an incredible gift. Don’t abuse it. It breaks God’s heart every time we choose our own way over His. We owe more than we could ever repay for the sacrifice that He made for us.

Jake Lawson

October 20 – I Will Remember: He Takes My Right Hand, and Then I Take His

The following is a YouVersion plan written by the Billy Graham Center. To participate with this plan on YouVersion, download the app, create an account and click on the link here to participate:

I Will Remember – YouVersion Plan

Don’t forget to share your comments and takeaways every day!

Read Isaiah 41:13, Romans 5:8

Many of us have heard the concept of the “upside-down kingdom.” Often, this is referencing key truths such as the weak will be made strong and the humble will be raised up, and vice versa. Whereas the world loves those who are powerful and successful, God’s eye is on the marginalized, the widow, the poor, the powerless. His eye is on the sparrow—that which is utterly dependent upon him. 

Isaiah 41:13, however, teaches us another way in which God’s kingdom is upside down: “For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you,’ declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel” (italics for emphasis).

God reaches down to take our hand and whisper words of comfort. We don’t just lift up our hands. He first reaches down. This is akin to the idea of a parent holding a child’s hand while they cross the street. Although the child is holding on, who is doing all the work? The parent. This is true with us as well. As we go through difficult seasons of life, we must not run away from God. We must reach out to him and hold on as best we can to his big, strong hand. But don’t be deceived. It is God who is doing all the work. 

We go through life thinking that we have to reach out to God and that we have to do better and be better for him to hear us and to help us. The better we are, we muse, the more God will love us

This, of course, is anathema and goes counter to the very message of the cross. Romans 5 in fact tells us that even when we were sinners, Christ died for us. 

Sometimes, the first step in walking through tragedy and trauma isn’t about us at all or anything we do. Sometimes, the first step is to simply close our eyes and to consider what it means that God is taking hold of our right hand. Our powerful, omniscient, all-knowing God calls to us, “I’ve got you. Do not fear.” Only then do we grab back, believing that he will never let go, in good times and in bad. 

Questions for Reflection

What are the implications for you as you consider the fact that God reaches out to comfort you even before you are reaching out to him? 

How can you offer this truth to those around you today? 

October 13 – Living Sacrifice – Show Grace

Read Romans 12:21, 5:6-10

Have you ever been in a situation or heard of a situation that brought forth any emotion except that of love, grace or respect?

I hope I am not the only one. 

Living in a broken, fallen world is just plain hard and sometimes we may not react or respond the way we need to. I am guilty and often find myself repenting of this. 

For me, a big stressor in my life is work. Working in healthcare is by no way easy, but at the same token, going through a pandemic and the consequences of that has made it more difficult.  

I often find myself responding to those around me with frustration or annoyance, or even at times anger. However, I then quickly realize that I am giving the enemy exactly what he wants and I then try to remember to surrender it all to the Lord and allow Him to shine through me.

As Paul tells the Romans in 12:21:

“Do not overcome evil with evil, but overcome evil with good”.

That right there is what I think most of us followers of Jesus forget. Though our priorities and perspectives are locked on following Jesus, we can’t help but give into what happens in the world around us and react. I am the first one to raise their hand if asked “who of you have responded unholy today to a frustration?” It’s easy to do. It’s harder to stop and take a breath and just invite the Lord into the situation. Yet, if we are followers after Jesus, we are called to be holy, to be set a part.

How will someone see Jesus if all they see is me?

Jesus died for everyone. Not just those who choose Him. As Paul reminds us in Romans 5:6:

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly”.

That is all. 

If I am called to be a living sacrifice, If I am called to be set apart, shouldn’t I exam my life and see where I am not measuring up? Where am I not above reproach? Where, or who at work do I need to change my attitude, reactions, responses, words?

I want you to think of the hardest person for you to love…or tolerate…

Jesus died for them. 

Don’t you see? We aren’t special because we chose to follow after Him. We are special because He calls us special. We are loved and holy and unique because that is what He calls us. He has called that worst person to that as well.

The difference is choice.

If you will not be Jesus to that person, who will?

Who will show the love and grace that Jesus has to offer them? Who will not respond like the rest of the world around them, but in turn see them with the eyes of Jesus? 

May we remember this about ourselves, as well as those around us:

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

Kelly Lawson

October 12 – Living Sacrifice – Bless and Rejoice

Read Matthew 5:43-48, 6:7-15 and Romans 12:14

“Bless those who persecute you.”

(Persecute – to harass or punish in a manner designed to injure; to cause suffering because of belief).

“I’m turning the TV down

Drowning their voices out,

Cause I believe that you and me

Can find some common ground,

See maybe I’m not like you

But I’ll walk a mile in your shoes,

If it means I might see

The world the way you do.”

(Revolutionary, Josh Wilson – a song about our current culture. Video is below).

Having mercy on others is right at the heart of what Jesus taught: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt 5:44)

Why?

To have mercy on your enemies is to imitate your Father in heaven – “that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matt 5:45a). God’s mercy extends to those who are hostile towards him: “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt 5:45b).

To have mercy like this marks you out from the world: “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” (Matt 5:46). We tend only to love people who are like us, or whom we like. But you are called to be different. Love your enemies. Show them the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:23). Pray for those who persecute you.

How can we receive God’s mercy ourselves and then show no mercy to others?

“Let’s take some time, open our eyes, look and listen,

We’re gonna find we’re more alike than we are different.

Why does kindness seem revolutionary?

When did we let hate get so ordinary?

Let’s turn it around, flip the script,

Judge slow, love quick…”

(Revolutionary)

We do not earn forgiveness by forgiving others, but Jesus says that our forgiveness of others is essential to receiving forgiveness from God. “You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part” (Matt 6:14–15).

Do it every day – receive mercy and forgiveness. Have mercy and forgive others.

Jesus explains the importance of prayer. He tells you to “pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44). Praying for your enemies helps you to see them as God sees them!

The theme of mercy is also at the heart of the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt 6:12).

When we pray, Jesus teaches us in Matthew 6 to:

Keep it quiet

“When you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you and pray to your Father in private.” (v.6)

Keep it honest

“Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” (v.6b)

Keep it simple

“Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.” (v.9a)

In what way can you bless those who persecute you?

Tom Weckesser

October 11 – Living Sacrifice – Don’t Hit Back

Read Romans 12:17-20, 1 Peter 3:9 and Proverbs 25:21-22

When I was a kid I could recall my parents telling me not to hit my brother or sister back during any disagreement. Pretty standard parental advice for siblings, especially for a middle child like myself. In the literal terms, hitting someone as an initial act or retaliation is not a good option, but how do these passages apply in 3 areas of our lives and not just in the sense of violence?

  1. Words

What we say and how we say it in today’s culture seems to be very tenuous. Some think they can say whatever they want on social media with no repercussion, but the words we use tell others a lot about what is going on in our hearts and minds.

Paul writes “Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone” (Romans 12:17), but, most importantly, doing what is right in God’s eyes. Think about how that social media post or comment on someone else’s post sounds before sending it out. 

2. Actions

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.” (1 Peter 3:9). Everyone has someone in their sphere that just rubbed them the wrong way. It always seems like they are putting you down or just always against you. The scripture today instructs us to not repay their unkind behavior back to them, but to, instead, show undeserved kindness to them. This is very challenging, especially if you know that you aren’t the person who should be apologizing.

Pray for patience and kindness to be part of your response to that person.

3. Thought Life

It’s easy to turn to harsh thoughts and want to think poorly about someone who has said or done something against you. Take those thoughts captive and, by doing so, apply the words in Proverbs 25:22:

“…you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”

Returning kindness as a response to an offensive act is difficult to do; however, praying for someone or flipping your thought life to the positive instead of negative is even tougher. 

There’s never been a better and more opportune time to show kindness to the opposite political party, the other side of the vaccination fence, or to someone who just doesn’t believe what you do.

So, the next time you have the chance to “hit back”, choose to respond with His unfailing kindness!

Drew Hilty

October 10 – Living Sacrifice – Sincere Love

Read Romans 12:9-13 and 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

W.W.J.D? What would Jesus do?

H.W.L.F.

He would love first!

Sincere love is to love others like Jesus did. It is genuine affection. It is not fake. It is active love.

It can include praying for another person. It includes using your spiritual gifts. Sincere love can include serving, teaching, encouraging and giving generously. It is doing it cheerfully. Ask yourself, “Am I lukewarm, hot or cold?” (See Rev 3:16)

Love the person right in front of you – with a kind word, a smile, or a helping hand. Get off your cell phone and talk to them. Get to know them. Ask them how their day is going… and then listen. Remember their name.

Take food to your neighbors. Stand and talk for a bit, if they seem interested. Just be friendly.

Be sincere.

Find a ministry at your church that matches your spiritual gifts and spend some time serving and using those gifts.

Hand out homeless bags when you see someone begging on the streets and pray for/with them.

When you take your kids to activities, don’t retreat to your car and listen to the radio or text people. Stick around and talk sincerely with any other parents who are there.

Love both those inside the church (Romans 12:10, 13, 15-16) and outside the church (12: 14, 17-21). Listen. Be patient.

“You lovin’ your neighbors then go let ’em know,

If you’re free, prove it,

If you’re not, lose the chains on your soul,

Come, freedom.”

David Crowder, “Prove It” – The first song on his setlist at the Wayne County Fair in September, 2021. Here was a man singing to hundreds of people in Wayne County saying that, if you are a Christian, then prove it with sincere love. (See John 8:36) Crowder’s ministry is to reach people who do not know the message of Jesus, including loving your neighbor. His ministry also encourages Christians to show sincere love to others.

Are you the aroma of Christ to others? (See 2 Corinthians 2:15).

Actions are one thing…but where is your heart? Are you doing these things to further the Kingdom or to make yourself feel better? Are you giving out of a desire to see God move as a result or are you just checking off a box?

Action is fake if it isn’t sincere.

WWJD?

He would love first…sincerely.

Tom Weckesser

October 9 – Living Sacrifice – Different Gifts

Read Romans 12:4-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:1-31

Growing up in a family of 5 kids was interesting, to say the least. We didn’t have very much money and, after my father suddenly died in 1959, we had even less.  However, every Christmas morning, all 5 of us would come bounding down the stairs to a living room FULL of presents! Bikes, dolls, train sets and more! Our parents loved us so much they wanted only the best for us and, if that meant putting aside a few dollars here and there, it was worth it to them to see the smiles on our faces. The presents eventually were forgotten and put away but the love that came from our parents never faded. 

God has some very special gifts for you, too, as you join Him in His mission here on Earth.

God knows what job in His Kingdom would be just perfect for you. The best part is He doesn’t just tell you to go do it but supplies you with the knowledge and skills you need to do it in the way of spiritual gifts. 

Why? 

Because He loves you and wants you to be the very best you can be.  How terribly sad it would be if God called you to teach and He equips you with the skills and desire to do it; but then you decide that it is too hard, doesn’t pay enough, too many hours in preparation etc. “I’ll let someone else do it!” 

Consider God’s plan as a giant jigsaw puzzle.  Each spiritual gift fits together to complete the total picture.  Without your participation, there is a hole right where your piece should be. Ask God what He has for you.  Don’t be surprised if it turns out to be the last one you wouldn’t have chosen for yourself. God knows you better that you do yourself and He also knows what you are capable of doing better than you do too.

Out of all the gifts my earthly father gave me, there was one that was my favorite.  It was a stuffed skunk. Even though it is ragged and kind of bent to one side, it is worth more to me than anything in this world.  It was given to me the December before he died.  He said he specifically picked it out for me because he always called me his “little stinker.” I love it because it is from him and it was picked out especially for me.

God has a special gift for you, too, that is worth more than gold.  You need to treasure it. Why? Because it is from our Heavenly Father and handpicked just for you!

Seek it today and don’t miss out on God’s blessings for you!

Pat Arnold

October 8 – Living Sacrifice – Humility

Read Romans 12:3; 1 Peter 5:6; 2 Corinthians 10:1-18

Joe Burrow, Saturday, December 14, 2019

Heisman Trophy Speech in New York City (An award given annually to the most outstanding college football player in the USA)

“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought…”Romans 12:3a

“All of my teammates have supported me and welcomed me with open arms, a kid from Ohio coming down to the Bayou, and welcoming me as brothers. It’s been so awesome.”

“…but rather think of yourself with sober judgment…” – Romans 12:3b

“I tried to leave a legacy of hard work and preparation, and loyalty, and dedication everywhere I go. And, I’m surrounded by such great people that make that so easy.”

“…in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”Romans 12:3c

“Coming from southeast Ohio, it’s a very impoverished area and the poverty rate is almost two times the national average. There are so many people there who don’t have a lot and I’m up here for all those kids in Athens and Athens County that go home to not a lot of food on the table, hungry after school. You guys can be up here, too.”

In a night to honor him, Joe gave a speech focusing on others and pointing out what got him there – hard work, being prepared and dedication to his craft. He modeled Romans 12:3 by not thinking highly of himself.

Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5:6 that, when you are humble, God will lift you up. Offer yourself as a living sacrifice by honoring others and talking about noble characteristics that can help you do your best. (see Colossians 3:23)

“It is what God says about you that makes the difference, not what you say about yourself.”2 Corinthians 10:15-18

When you are humble, you consider giving to others – food, clothes, time, attention, financial assistance etc. Think of yourself in sober judgement: Do you look for opportunities to help those in need? Just look around you now as there are many opportunities to give and be an example of Christ!

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) is a Christian sports ministry impacting the world for Jesus Christ through the influence of Christian athletes and coaches. If you look closely at sporting events, you will see these people trying to make a difference for Jesus Christ. They are playing for “an audience of one.” That audience is Jesus. Are you playing for an audience of one? Being humble is a great way to do that.

After Baylor won the men’s NCAA basketball championship this past April, they stood in a circle on the court and humbly thanked God in prayer. Coach Scott Drew said, “We are a Christ-centered program. We do a players’ Bible study and a chapel service…those are great times for all of us to grow spiritually.”

Are you living for an audience of one? What are some ways that you can show humility starting today?

Tom Weckesser

Joe Burrow’s Heisman speech has affected positive change in Ohio | College Gameday