Category Archives: Devotional

Your Move

Three groups of people come to the scene of an accident.  Onlookers simply want to catch a glimpse of what happened. Reporters arrive to investigate what took place and find someone to blame. Paramedics move in with clear intentions – to bring healing and hope to the victims of the accident.

As we pass by hurting, sin-sick humanity it’s easy to assume the role of onlooker, gawking at the wreckage of another wasted life or lost soul, shaking our heads at the damage that’s been done.

It’s tempting to pick up our notebooks and start scrutinizing everything. Interviewing the eye-witnesses, asking probing questions, searching for answers and trying to figure out who’s at fault because we need someone to blame for all the pain and suffering.

What would it take to be the ones who move in?

That’s what Jesus did.

He didn’t look the other way when he saw someone hurting. He didn’t judge or try to find someone to blame.

The Bible tells us Jesus was moved with compassion. Love motivated him to move in. And he wasn’t afraid to get dirty. He was known as a friend of sinners. He didn’t distance himself from lost people. He sought them out. He found them. And when he found them, they found life.

God is passionate about redeeming lost and hurting people. That is the good news Jesus asked us to share. He wants us to partner with him to find lost people and help them find new life.

So what is your move? It can be as simple as inviting someone to church. Our new six week sermon series Questions starts this Sunday. We all have questions about faith, Why not invite someone this weekend? Studies show the vast majority of people will come if you just ask.

Luke 19:10 NLT “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”

We want to know – How do you share your faith? Do our invite tools help you?

Trust and Choices

Apparently there are some things angels refuse to do. Now they seem to get a kick out of freaking out human beings with their appearance. They are not above slapping someone on the side to wake them up. They unlock cell doors and swing open city gates. But they won’t stoop down to help you get up on your feet. They won’t strap your sandals on or help you get dressed. They expect you to have enough intelligence to follow directions and you are gonna have to do your part. Well, at least that’s how it played out when an angel showed up to get Peter out of prison.

It’s a common theme throughout the Bible and throughout history. We choose to do our part and trust that God will do what only he can do!

Paul wrote most of his letters with this theme in mind – half encouraging readers to trust in God and the other half encouraging them to choose wisely.

So which comes first – trust or choice? The chicken or the egg?

They are intertwined and inseparable. We choose to trust and we need trust in order to choose.

  • Those who deny trust miss out on the supernatural.
  • Those who deny choice miss out on the dignity of the human experience.

God took the ultimate risk in creating man with the ability to choose. He wanted love and you can’t have love without choice. Authentic love was worth the potential consequence of giving us the power to choose.

We need to find the right rhythm to both – giving our best effort and surrendering to God’s will, working hard while depending on God, seeking wisdom and resting in divine direction.

The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate. Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. Then the angel told him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” And he did. “Now put on your coat and follow me,” the angel ordered.  So Peter left the cell, following the angel. But all the time he thought it was a vision. He didn’t realize it was actually happening. They passed the first and second guard posts and came to the iron gate leading to the city, and this opened for them all by itself. So they passed through and started walking down the street, and then the angel suddenly left him. Acts 12:6-10 NLT

What do you think? Which comes first in your mind – choice or trust?

Get Connected

Way back in Genesis chapter 1 when God created the world, he admired his work. He said, “It’s good; it’s very good.”  But in Genesis chapter 2 God said something completely different. He said, “It is NOT GOOD that man should be alone.”

This rings true today. We need each other! Relationships enrich our lives. When we share our challenges the struggle is cut in half. When we share our triumphs the joy multiplies.

We want to challenge you to get connected in relationship, and the truth is there is no better place to do that than here in your church. Small groups and serving groups are the perfect place to find like-minded people to share the journey of life.

Getting connected will expand your heart. Proverbs 18:1 says, “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire.” The more people you have in your life, the more your heart expands.

Getting connected will keep you accountable. Alone, we are vulnerable.  When we stand together, we overcome temptation.

Getting connected makes you smarter. It’s true! Proverbs 27:17 says, “as iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another.”  We all have blind spots. We need friends who aren’t afraid to create a few sparks and open our eyes to the reality we can’t see.

Getting connected brings wholeness.  People who isolate themselves are more susceptible to depression and despair.  (More on that here.)  Healing comes in the context of healthy relationship.

What are you waiting for? Now’s the time to get connected!

Click here to get connected in a small group.

Click here to get connected in a serving group.

Click here to learn more about Shoreline and your next step by attending Shoreline Life class.

Tell us – because we want to know – how has being part of a group changed your life?

What is Freedom?

The corner news stand in the former Soviet Union offered a small selection of government approved reading –sterile, gray, mediocre material. Contrast that with a news stand in New York City. There you’ll find vibrant color, confident opinions and massive creativity. But shelved alongside the beauty of free expression you will notice a darker shade of freedom on display.

Freedom is defined as the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. Freedom is glorious and freedom is risky.

The children of Israel were miraculously freed from slavery in Egypt. No more whips. No more bricks. No more pyramids.  Yet in their outer freedom, they chose the inner oppression of sin.

It can be harder to live free in the fullness of choice.  In our independence we choose things that enslave us once again.

This is the paradox of freedom – that we have the option to choose bondage.

But God, in love and through Jesus, freed us from the bondage of sin to become servants of righteousness.  (Romans 6:18)

Our most significant act of independence is choosing dependence on Christ, choosing his kingdom and his rule over the tyranny of a self-reliant life.

Our founding fathers realized that our truest freedom is found in humble reliance and utter dependence on God:

 “We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom alone all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven, and with a propitious eye beholds his subjects assuming that freedom of thought, and dignity of self-direction which He bestowed on them. From the rising to the setting sun, may His kingdom come.” Samuel Adams

I have lived, Sir, a longtime, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth-that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the House they labor in vain that build it.”  Benjamin Franklin

Celebrate your freedom by making a fresh commitment to dependence on Christ.

The Narrow Way

Toward the end of Jesus’ most famous message he tells people there are two roads to choose from in this life. The road most people choose is wide and broad and it leads to destruction. But there is a road to life – to God. It is narrow and few people find it.

If it’s difficult to find the narrow gate that reveals the narrow road, then it must be easy for us to remain on the road to destruction without even realizing we’re on it. In the words of Jesus, this narrow road is “vigorous and requires total attention!” Attention to what?

Attention to him!

  1. Distraction is for Real We have opportunities every day to turn our attention away from Jesus and focus on the troubles and challenges of life. They can fester inside us and turn into anger, fear, bitterness, sorrow or disappointment. When this happens, who we are in Jesus gives way to destruction.  We become miserable people with little hope.
  2. Jesus Is Still Alive When we turn to Jesus and ask him to help us with the struggles that threaten to destroy us, we die to our feelings and he comes alive in us! The same Jesus that challenged and directed the crowd on the mountain can live IN US to challenge and direct us through our lives.
  3. Jesus is Joy When we allow Jesus to fully live in us, his spirit can produce the “fruit” Paul told us about in Galatians 5. This fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, replaces our pain, anger, bitterness, disappointment and fear and sets us free to live the abundant life Jesus came to give.

How great it would be to have Jesus right here to help you sort through everything you will face today? Recognize that he is here! Just ask him for help. We don’t need to be nicer, or happier. We need to be closer to him! He is the answer and he is calling us through the narrow gate to walk on the narrow way.

Matthew 7:13-14 MSG “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.

Four Fathers

Why is it that on Mother’s Day moms take naps and we bring them breakfast in bed, while on Father’s Day dads are out playing catch, flying kites and four-wheeling with the kids? Moms get a day off.  Dads are on duty!

Being a man is a big job. Hooah!  As husbands we symbolize Jesus’ love for the church, his bride. When we become parents we represent God, the heavenly father. That’s pretty intimidating stuff. This parenting thing is no joke.  Here is a look at four fathers you may know:

A Bad Father – Jesus had a confrontation with some religious leaders. Things got a little intense. Jesus told them, “You belong to your father the devil and you want to carry out his desires. “ Then Jesus spelled out what this bad dad is all about. He is a murderer. He wants to destroy everything good in your life and kill your hopes and dreams. He is a liar; there is no truth in him. (John 8:42-44)

The Heavenly Father -God is GOOD. Everything good in our lives is a gift from him. (James 1:17) Moses is one of few people who have seen God. He asked, “Show me your glory.”  God responded, “I will cause my GOODNESS to pass before you.” The Heavenly Father’s glory, the thing he is famous for, is his goodness. (Exodus 33:18-19)

Our Fathers – Every one of us has a father. The negative things we saw in him came from the bad dad. The good we saw in him is a reflection of the Heavenly Father.  The Bible has one instruction when it comes it our earthy fathers, we are to honor them.

You, the Father – Alright Dads, here is the reality – there is no way we can measure up to the expectation of representing our Heavenly Father. We can’t do it on our own. We need grace! We need his Spirit to empower us, work in us and move through us so we can represent him well.

Affirmation:  Resist the bad father. Embrace the Heavenly Father. Honor your father. As a dad, emulate the Heavenly Father.

Comments:  Take a minute to tell us about your dad, or a father figure in your life. What made him special? How does he reflect the love of the Heavenly Father?

Made To Worship

Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, Psalm 147:3, 7

From pulsating stars to singing whales, the universe resounds in worship.  Will you take your seat in the symphony of praise?

You were made to worship. And you don’t have to be musically inclined to join in the song. Worship is all about value. Each one of us shouts our praise through the choices we make every day.

Follow the trail of your affection, energy, money, time and allegiance and you will find what you value most. What do you see there at the end of that trail? Do you find comfort, ego, reputation or pleasure? Would you like to find something more significant?

If you need to make an adjustment, simply choose to shift your focus. Begin with thanksgiving. Worship is a natural byproduct of a grateful heart. Spend some time today thinking about God’s love and grace. Know that everything good in your life is a gift from the Father.

Please join us as we worship together on Sunday mornings. But until Sunday rolls around – worship wherever you are, whatever you are going through. You were made to worship and we need your melody, your rhythm, your harmony to make the song complete.

Weekly Challenge:  I will live this day to give glory to God.

Comment: We want to hear from you. What did you find at the end of the trail of your energy and affection?

Psalm 34: 1-3 I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together.

Sons of Thunder

Among Jesus’ twelve disciples were two sets of brothers – Peter and Andrew, and James and John.  Somehow James and John earned the nickname “Sons of Thunder.” That’s impressive!

It’s easy to picture these boys as a loud, raucous duo or to imagine their father, Zebedee causing a stir. But I have a feeling I know who the thunderous one was.

One day toward the end of Jesus’ life on earth, the MOTHER of James and John approaches Jesus with a special request. And the thunder rolls! She’s a gutsy girl, and asks for a position of influence for her two sons. Jesus’ other ten disciples are disgusted with her power play. It makes me smile because I know moms do these kinds of things!

Perhaps her request is out of order. But if you look past the obvious, “Put my boys in charge of your kingdom” request, you’ll see she was a pretty awesome mom.

  1. She brought her boys to Jesus. I’m sure there were plenty of other leaders around and plenty of other things to do, but Momma Zebedee brought her boys to the one who matters most! Thank God for moms who lead their children to the Lord.
  2. She prayed for her boys. She got down on her knees and brought her request to Jesus. How many of us wouldn’t be where we are today, or wouldn’t be alive today, without the devoted prayers of our mother, auntie, grandma or the other faith-filled women who pleaded on our behalf?
  3. She believed in her boys. Her request was bold and audacious, but you know she believed those boys deserved that leadership position! In her mind it made perfect sense. What a gift it is to a child to know someone believes in them.

Comments Tell us about the mom who thundered for you.

Scripture for Reflection Mathew 20:20-21 …the mother of the Zebedee brothers came with her two sons and knelt before Jesus with a request. “What do you want?” Jesus asked. She said, “Give your word that these two sons of mine will be awarded the highest places of honor in your kingdom, one at your right hand, one at your left hand.”

O How Sweet

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel overwhelmed. Life is often unfair; and our enemy, the devil, comes at us from every possible angle. He does his best to stir up trouble with our spouse, kids, friends, finances, health, possessions, and everything else we care about. The truth is – he’s just doing his job really well by trying to aggravate, frustrate, confuse, lie, demean, kill, steal and destroy us.

Then, there’s the other enemy – us! We don’t mean to be our own enemy, but we have the ability to create a big mess out of things at times with the poor choices we make.  The other day, when my house was in complete disarray because of a huge water heater leak we had, I cropped a sorry attitude, which I unfortunately allowed to affect my entire family.

So, between this crazy fallen world, the devils tactics, and our own inadequacies and sin – we may start to believe life is just a bitter pill we must swallow or survive. We might wonder if we’ll ever pass over to the other side of the trouble we’re presently in.

My parents constantly remind me, “This too shall pass.” But we have an even greater assurance that everything’s going to be okay… Even SWEET once again.

I John 4:4 says, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because greater is the One who is in you than he that is in the world.” 

This verse assures us that there is always HOPE with God! Regardless of what this world throws at us, what the enemy does, or what the consequences of our own mistakes create – “Greater is HE in us…”

Listen to these other verses we can mediate on and draw strength from when we’re in the midst of a difficult season:

John 16:33 (Msg) – “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! have overcome the world.”

Romans 8:37 – “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

Romans 8:11 – “The same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is living in you and He will give life to your mortal bodies through His spirit who lives in you!”

Matthew 19:26 – “With man this is impossible but with God all things are possible.”

Genesis 18:14 – “…Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

We ARE going to be okay – pass over – get through – overcome EVERY difficult issue we are facing… because God lives in us!

I heard an amusing saying awhile back, “Don’t let the devil lick the sweet off your lollipop.”

Be at peace. Keep your joy. Stay full of wonder. Hold tight to the sweetness of life! Remember, God, the Greater One, has licked the sweetness off the devil’s lollipop once and for all!