My latest book, “Daily Reflections,” isn’t your typical devotional. It will rock your spiritual world as it lifts you up and lays you low.
This devotional began as my spiritual legacy to my family and our future generations. I wanted to share with them the lessons that had impacted me the most – those that actually changed me. I had no idea that the greatest lessons would come as I was writing this book. As I compiled the stories and lessons, the Holy Spirit brought to completion what had been a limited and erroneous understanding of what really happened to me the moment I received Jesus as my Savior and was born again. Suddenly the verses I had memorized and even taught came alive and awakened in me an unquenchable joy that transcended anything I had ever experienced. Truths I knew in my mind were finally penetrating my heart, opening my eyes, and setting me free.
I knew and believed the “saved by Jesus’ death” part-His substitutionary sacrifice on my behalf. What I had failed to grasp was the “saved by His life” part. I soon discovered that it had also eluded every other believer I knew including some great Bible teachers and scholars. I have woven this life-changing revelation throughout the daily meditations and have summed it up in the discussion of salvation in the appendix.
The spiritual lessons and meditations in this devotional are lessons I have learned through experience. I have applied them, been laid low by them, and been lifted up by them. They are very real to me. My desire is that you can learn from them and avoid the mistakes that led me on some unnecessary detours. I hope you enjoy the journey you are about to begin.
Most daily devotionals I have used cover a different message and topic each day. I have found that with so much information bombarding me every day, by the time I read today’s thought, I have pretty much forgotten yesterday’s. For a more lasting impact, I have chosen to devote an entire month to a topic with each day’s message reinforcing and building on the previous one.
I don’t sugarcoat what it is to follow Jesus Christ. You will be challenged (as I have been) to embrace real Christianity, not the watered-down version we have accepted in our 21st century American culture. I am purposely raising the bar so you will come to understand what is required of us and the unfathomable riches that are ours once we come face to face with our own depravity and learn to see God as He is, not the version of Him we have created in our minds. To be a true follower of Jesus means that we will go where He goes, never questioning or rationalizing why we should stay where we are. Following Jesus means being completely abandoned to Him, whatever the cost to us.
We have become so accustomed to “Americanized Christianity” that we have been blinded to the lies and faulty ideas we have “bought into” without realizing it. Somewhere along the line, we have convinced ourselves that Jesus didn’t really mean what He said about denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Him. The whole idea of complete abandonment to Him, regardless of the cost, doesn’t fit with our notion of what He really expects of us. Pain, persecution and suffering? Surely these are the results of disobedience or sin, or so we have come to think.
A COSTLY FAITH
I’m afraid most of us know little about a costly faith. Oh, we know it was extremely costly for Jesus. He gave up more for us than we could ever imagine, but what has our faith cost us? Actually, very little. Somewhere on our faith journey, we have bought into the idea that real Christianity is living comfortably. Obey Jesus and He will bless us and we will live happily ever after.
We have replaced complete devotion to Jesus with complete devotion to the American dream-work hard and enjoy the best life has to offer, including the most comfortable version of Christianity man can devise. Jesus offered no such promise, at least not in this life. While He promised peace and joy, He also made it clear that both would come only through fiery trials designed to refine us into the image of Christ.
As I see it, Jesus’ expectations of His followers today can be seen in the image of a bond-slave. His sole mission was to carry out the desires of his master. Since the master-slave relationship was one of mutual love, the slave willingly obeyed. He lived daily in the grace of his master, and through that grace, all his needs were lavishly met. His only concern was his obedience to his master. This was actually even better than being set free, because his relationship freed him from the responsibilities of running his life. He never worried about money, food, education, employment, status, or respect. All of these needs were met by his master.
In order to be effective in focusing on his master’s interests, he had to get rid of his personal plans, goals, and agendas. He had to deny himself. He had to see his old personal life as having been crucified. It no longer existed. This he willingly did, knowing that the provisions of his master were infinitely more valuable and meaningful than anything he could gain from the world. He evaluated everything life threw at him against the only criterion that mattered-whether or not it advanced the interests of his master.
With no dog in the hunt, as we say, he could never be disappointed because things didn’t go his way. There no longer was any “his way.” He could never be personally offended by anything or anyone because he no longer had a personal agenda that required people to respect him and recognize his accomplishments. He was completely devoted to his master.
This represents the relationship Jesus expects from all those who claim to be His followers today. Read the New Testament carefully and you will find no exceptions. Jesus never made it easy for people to follow Him. Perhaps this explains why Jesus will say, “Depart from Me. I never knew you” to so many people who will call out, “Lord, Lord” and point out all they had done for Him (Mt. 7:13-23).
This is the new standard I have set for myself, and this devotional sets the same standard for you. I am done with comfortable Christianity and I refuse to be guilty of making the hard path seem easy. I am done with allowing my personal agenda to interfere with my sole mission of being about my Master’s business.
Please keep the image of a bond-slave in mind as you use this devotional. I will refer to it from time to time with the hopes that you will evaluate everything that happens to you in light of your bond-slave relationship with Jesus. I am convinced that apart from this mutual love relationship, we will never hear the coveted words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
This devotional is now available by clicking the BUY NOW button above.