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Daily Devotional

Latest Blog Posts in March 2017

Skin Deep: Getting Under Your Skin - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Mar 28, 2017

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
If you ask me, milk is the Babe Ruth of all drinks. Seinfeld is the Babe Ruth of TV shows. Cycling is the Babe Ruth of all exercising. And John 3:16 is the Babe Ruth of all Bible verses. I didn’t grow up in the church. But I always knew this verse. It’s the home run hitter of all Bible verses, isn’t it? In a single sentence, it captures the love, beauty, grace and promise in Jesus’ sacrifice for us. It circles around God’s feelings and carries it all the way through with action. Again, I say it is the Babe Ruth of Bible verses.
And do you know where this verse pops up? Nicodemus’ story is John 3:1-15. Then the author, John, follows up with this homerun in verse 16. Why? Because Nicodemus was an example of the kind of guy who needed to hear this verse. He was an intellectual. He was a struggling non-believer and he needed to know that God so loved him that He gave up Jesus to die for him. And, “Nick, if you believe in Jesus you will never die, but instead, you will have eternal life.”
Again, I ask that you dwell on a single word: “Who?” Who in your life needs to know this verse is true? As we approach the Easter season, you have friends who are thinking about Jesus more than any other season of the year. Are you available enough for them to approach you? Would you ever have the courage and approach them? I think it’s worth the ask. 
  • Ask God who in your life needs to hear this message? Pray for the courage to invite that person to church with you on Easter Sunday.

Derrick Purvis
Harrodsburg Road Campus Leader / Formation Pastor

Skin Deep: Getting Under Your Skin - Monday

Posted on Mon, Mar 27, 2017

"Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”"
I have had more spiritual conversations in my garage than just about anywhere else. Some of those conversations have been with buddies in the garage wrenching on bikes late at night. We’ve discussed the the value of life and protecting the dignity of the needy as we’ve run brake lines. We’ve mulled over the absence of satisfaction in the pursuit of money or recognition while we tuned the gearing on a new mountain bike build. I’ve also stood in that garage with neighbors. While my kids were riding circles around us on their bikes, one neighbor stood in my garage and opened up about why and how her husband left her. I remember being covered in dirt and sweat from mulching the front yard while another neighbor asked me “Why do so many preachers sweat and yell so much?” “I’m not sure,” I said, “Maybe they just finished mulching!”
I cherish all those conversations. They didn’t happen in church. It was my little garage filled with old Christmas decorations, bicycles and kayaks. One night Nicodemus showed up in Jesus’ garage and said, “Hey, can we talk?”
Romans 8:6 says "The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace." There are a lot of folks in your life whose minds are governed by the flesh. They don’t know about Jesus like you do. It’s scary to think, but all too true. Their path leads to death while you’re on this path to life and peace. So here’s the question: Is your garage open?
  • Start inviting people into conversations about Jesus. Ask the Holy Spirit if you’re living in such a way that people would pop in, like Nicodemus, to ask you about Him. Pray for a name of someone in your life who you need to invite to Easter services this year.

Derrick Purvis
Harrodsburg Road Campus Leader / Formation Pastor

Yo-Yo: Crash and Burn (Burned Out) - Friday

Posted on Fri, Mar 24, 2017

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
The premise of one of my favorite books is, essentially, find out where God is at work and join Him there. I wonder if most of the burnout in my life has come from doing the opposite--from trying to force things to happen that God never intended? From futile efforts to create the kind of life I believe others expect or will admire. Somewhere between the image we want to create and the image of God in us, we work against our Creator and the result is bad.
We bring on the burnout in our lives by trying to live up to a version of ourselves that we created instead of joining God where He is at work already in our lives. To put it more simply, we should cease striving and start abiding. John 15:5 says, I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing.
Heading into the weekend, let’s use this time to start letting go of the version of ourselves that isn’t who we are and embrace who God created us to be. Let’s start by stripping ourselves of the facade and give over our very limited selves to God. I’ve had to do this a lot. I’ve had to realize that my temper, insecurities, and inabilities as a dad, husband, co-worker, and friend are real. I can either strive to make it seem like I’m superhuman, or I can take my weaknesses to my Father in Heaven and abide in Him.
  • I’ve never regretted being honest about my limitations with God and resting in His presence. Let’s take some time to do this today and through the weekend.

Nathan Head
Executive Pastor of Ministries

Yo-Yo: Crash and Burn (Burned Out) - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Mar 23, 2017

So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning.
Have you ever been burned out and quit? I quit a job in college once. I just dreaded it. I worked at Red Lobster making salads and putting cheddar biscuits in baskets. The floor was slimy, the galley was cramped, the pay was low, I was miserable, and so I quit. It’s one thing to quit a part-time job in college, but it’s another thing to quit when you reach the burnout point in “real life.” When you have bills to pay and mouths to feed, you can’t just quit. When you’ve agreed to be on the board, join the PTA, or take on more at church, the weight of it all adds up quickly. 
Job’s pain was severe and he was ready to throw in the towel. In his pain and misery, he preferred death to dealing with another day facing the pressure of his miserable circumstances. Cue the children’s song, “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I think I’ll go eat worms!” Job was in a pit and these words came out of him: “For in death the wicked cause no trouble, and the weary are at rest.Job 3:17  Forget eating worms, Job wanted to die.
Job was ready to quit on life and I can’t blame him. I’m glad he didn’t though. I’m glad he hung on desperately to God. I’m glad he allowed God to show up and move and ultimately learn that God’s ways are so deep and wide we’re likely never to fully grasp them, but we can’t deny His grasp on us.
  • Do you know someone who is ready to quit? Take time to encourage them today.

Nathan Head
Executive Pastor of Ministries

Yo-Yo: Crash and Burn (Burned Out) - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Mar 22, 2017

I have no peace, no quietness. I have no rest; only trouble comes.
On Sunday we explored two statements:
Satan tests us to watch us fail.
God tests us to watch us prevail.
In Job 3 he has crashed and burned. Writhing in pain and without any relief, he pours out his anguish. His last statement in the chapter, “I have no peace, no quietness. I have no rest; only trouble comes” is real and raw. The very last phrase gets my attention. Job says, “only trouble comes.” Many of us have been there. We get to a certain point in life where “only trouble comes.” When we are in a state of mind where trouble is the only thing we can perceive in our world, it’s extraordinarily difficult to have hope that we will ever survive, let alone prevail.
Pain is a universal experience. Practically, pain has a purpose. If we could not feel pain, we would live really destructive lives. A hand on a hot stove would burn badly because we can’t sense it and a total lack of feeling would lead to far worse. Emotionally, though, it doesn’t seem like pain helps us. It doesn’t feel like emotional pain has a purpose, but as Jon said on Sunday, “God tests us to watch us prevail.
Is there a trial you are facing right now in which only God can prevail? What would it look like to prevail? This devo is far too short for me to wrap up our problems in a bow. So, instead of me encouraging three quick and easy steps to resolution, I’ll simply encourage you to be still and allow God to minister to your soul.
  • If you aren’t facing a tough trial, take the time to be still and reflect on God’s provision and guidance in prior valleys of life.

Nathan Head
Executive Pastor of Ministries

Yo-Yo: Crash and Burn (Burned Out) - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Mar 21, 2017

There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless -- a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.
I can’t think of a greater description of a man. This is how the Bible introduces us to Job. It would appear that Job is the hero of the story. As stories go, we will get to know him, we’ll be endeared to him, and then there will be rising tension. He will face adversity and then more adversity and when it seems all hope is lost, he will rise above his circumstances and conquer whatever challenge presents itself. Except that’s not what happens.
Job’s story is an astounding record of one man’s struggle against intolerable pain and adversity. He loses incomprehensible wealth, his kids and grandkids, and his health. His wife tells him to curse God and die. His friends offer shallow and trite advice, and Job writhes in agony. Job doesn’t rise victorious; as a matter of fact, God speaks out in stunning honesty and calls Job to humble himself even more. 
In the end, it’s God who is the hero. God is the one who restores and redeems Job. Job was helpless without God’s great return of fortune to his life. Job was a man of supreme integrity, but even with all his great integrity and his force of will, Job was not exempt from pain.
  • If you are in pain and not sure where to turn, we’d love to help. Please contact Southland at (859)224-1600 and ask for Jennifer Wallace.

Nathan Head
Executive Pastor of Ministries

Yo-Yo: Crash and Burn (Burned Out) - Monday

Posted on Mon, Mar 20, 2017

Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?
Last time I saw my dad was at my aunt’s funeral. She died in a tragic and unnecessary car accident. It ended up that my mom lost her sister and then her husband of almost 40 years in a matter of weeks. What is true about tragedy and loss is that we don’t get to choose when it happens. Life doesn’t deal these things out in ways that allow us to properly grieve and get perspective in order to take on the next thing. Life happens, loss comes, and when it does--we are tested.
The story of Job is one of great testing. The book of Job brings us face to face with one of the hardest questions we’ll ever wrestle with: “How can a loving God create a world with so much pain and suffering?” These devos will not answer this question, but they will serve to help us lean into God and His presence where, as Job illustrates, answers become less important and healing begins.
  • Today, take some time to list out the hardest issues you have ever faced. Next, reflect on the ways you have seen God heal, rescue, change, and/or bless those circumstances. Save this list for the future; we’ll need a record of God’s action in our lives before too long.

Nathan Head
Executive Pastor of Ministries

Yo-Yo: Twiddling Your Thumbs (Bored) - Friday

Posted on Fri, Mar 17, 2017

So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. 
As a kid, I experienced turbulence in my home. I remember fighting through some dark days to find happiness. But, as I came into a relationship with Jesus I began to see that what He had to offer was joy - an internal anchor that could only come from Him, in spite of what was happening around me. I came to see and still to this day find that joy (what I know versus how I feel) is unhindered by circumstances. 
Solomon found the essence of happiness to be fleeting as well. Happiness, in and of itself, did not bring lasting value. He found this to rise and fall in his life. To chase happiness, he said, is like chasing the wind. It would only bring a temporary satisfaction with no promise of real meaning. Solomon realized that apart from God there is no possibility of lasting enjoyment. 
God invites us to something real, lasting, and eternal. It’s a joy that only He can give. One that, in spite of our circumstances, brings hope... and that is where our joy comes from. We can crush boredom with joy. It is contagious to those around us. And its root can often be found in gratitude. 
If you were to list all your blessings; what would you find? Sometimes if we adjust our focus our heart follows suit. God’s promises and God’s blessings serve as stabilizers in our spiritual journey! Happiness only gives a temporary jolt, but joy gives us an eternal mindset. 
  • I love this picture of joy that Scripture gives us in Psalm 28:7: “The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” Take some time today to reflect on how the joy of the Lord is your strength. Ask God to show you ways that He is at work in and around you in spite of your circumstances. 

Michelle Frank
Staff Development

Yo-Yo: Twiddling Your Thumbs (Bored) - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Mar 16, 2017

 I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards.
A few months ago our family was grabbing lunch after Church with some friends. We were talking around the table about the message, Uncommon Generosity, from our Uncommonwealth series. As we wrapped up, the waiter come to our table and said, “The guests over there just paid your bill. They left already, but wanted to do this for you all.” We were stunned and super grateful. 
Solomon had so many resources he could build or buy anything for himself. Yet he said even that was meaningless -- why would he want to saturate himself in things just for himself? All the accumulation of “stuff” could not bring satisfaction.
This is one of the reasons I love our Church so much -- our Church generously extends hope to those in need! Two thousand years ago, the followers of Jesus applied His message and gave as they saw people in need. Their sharing and giving allowed the Gospel to advance all over the world. What a compelling message and example for us today!
I have also discovered that generosity snuffs out boredom! It is way more fun to give than to get. Generosity comes in all shapes and sizes - and the deposit can have such eternal implications. The desire to give is a form of worship and allows us to experience God. And we also get to serve others by giving. 
I’m praying that, as we enter this day, we will be more focused on what we can share as opposed to what we can keep for ourselves. I know the Lord wants to show up in your day when you pray that kind of prayer! Talk about bustin’ up some boredom -- go bless someone’s socks off! 
  • Is there something you have two of that you could give away this week? Make an effort to bless someone else with something that would be an encouragement to them and make you feel wonderful for being generous.  

Michelle Frank
Staff Development

Yo-Yo: Twiddling Your Thumbs (Bored) - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Mar 15, 2017

I came to hate all my hard work here on earth, for I must leave to others everything I have earned.
People  seem to live for the weekend, don’t they? Bringing an end to the work week, Friday is their favorite day. But not my husband! We laugh at him because he always tells us he loves Mondays! They are his favorite day of the week. He loves Monday because it brings a fresh new week to see all the opportunity. 
Solomon lived for Fridays. He found his work to be futile. He discovered that the labor he put into his work was meaningless. Those who would come behind him to finish the work would not appreciate the hard work he had done, they might just change what came of his hard work, and would not know the value he placed on the work. So he found work meaningless... apart from God. 
We cannot get around it: work is a reality in this life. But what if we made Colossians 3:17 our motivation for work? “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.” What if our work became a way we worshipped God? What if we saw our work as more of a calling to serve our coworkers, care for our families, and display God’s love to our employers? God’s guidance in our work brings incredible purpose and meaning. 
In our work, let’s not crowd out the opportunities for rest, worship, and eternal investments in the lives of others. We all get invited to belong to a relationship with Christ and in that we get to participate in Kingdom work, even in our workplace. Our job can be part of the way we give back. God calls us to a full life in Him; all of our life, including our work. 
Today, I’m praying we find our work enjoyable as we see it from God’s perspective. The way we do the work we get to do makes all the difference.
  • Do something at work this week that is out of the ordinary but will have eternal impact. Ask the Lord to show you what it might be that He would want you to do.

Michelle Frank
Staff Development

Yo-Yo: Twiddling Your Thumbs (Bored) - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Mar 14, 2017

I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless.
I had the privilege of spending the weekend with some incredible young ladies a few weeks ago at a volleyball tournament in Tennessee. Along the way, I heard the incredible story of a young lady who loved this game so much. She made the team her 6th and 7th grade years, but then, in her 8th grade year, she got cut from the team. She had a choice to make at that point. To walk away from the sport she loved so much or find a greater purpose. She chose to become the team manager during her 8th grade year. Then; went on to being a great high school player.
Solomon had it all! At the beginning of Ecclesiastes 2, he tells us that he sought pleasure. He could buy, have, and do anything he wanted. As he pursued pleasure, he came to see that seeking pleasure for pleasure’s sake was futile. As quickly as it came, it went. It did not bring lasting satisfaction. 
How many times have we been there? In our culture, we can do, have, and/or buy just about anything. Seeking pleasure is at an all time high--only for people to discover they’re still empty on the inside. I believe God has a greater purpose in mind for all of us. Our pleasure submitted to God’s purposes has eternal value. And that is fulfilling and lasting. 
As we surrender our time, resources, talents, and possessions to God we will see His purposes infuse our everyday living. Anything in the hand of God has incredible eternal impact. Let’s see how He moves when all we are and all we do is anchored in Him. Not only does it bust up boredom, it brings so much purpose into our lives. We find we are living for so much more!
  • Is there something this week that you can try going without?  Replace that pleasure you regularly enjoy with something that brings greater purpose and value.

Michelle Frank
Staff Development

Yo-Yo: Twiddling Your Thumbs (Bored) - Monday

Posted on Mon, Mar 13, 2017

I spent all of my time studying. I used my wisdom to check everything out. I looked into everything that is done on earth. What a heavy load God has put on men!
Back in 2003, my family was called to move and serve at a mission. Little did I know it was going to be a season that would radically change me. One day the Director invited me to go join them for a study and my words to him were, “I already know all this.” Sad to admit! 
Well, it wasn’t long before the Lord convicted my heart and asked, ever so gently, “You know these things, but are you changed by what you know?” So, I began my pursuit of daily devotion seeking wisdom and understanding, asking myself, “Does the knowledge I pursue have eternal significance?” Because that is all that matters!
In Chapter 1 of Ecclesiastes, we discover Solomon had all the knowledge in the world, but knew that wisdom surpassed it all. What about us? We know that knowledge holds substance for learning and educating ourselves. However, only wisdom, leads us to good decisions in our daily lives. 
In my life, the pursuit of knowledge left me void of transformation. It was only when I prayed for wisdom that I saw real change in my mind, heart, and ultimately my actions. 
If there is one prayer I pray every day for my family, it is, “Lord, give us more wisdom.” That we would know the truth - that it would fill our minds, rule our hearts, and guide our feet. That we would allow Him to take our knowledge of the truth to the next level and use all of it to transform us through wisdom. 
As we go about our day today, let’s be devoted to seeking and asking for wisdom and understanding. 
  • Take some time today to allow God to speak to you and remind you of how life-giving it is to seek wisdom, insight, and understanding. 

Michelle Frank
Staff Development

Yo-Yo: Roller Coaster (Bummed) - Friday

Posted on Fri, Mar 10, 2017

Depression isn’t entirely a disease of the brain, but also the soul. It affects every part of us, thus a complete cure (where possible), demands a holistic approach. A number of factors influence feelings of depression: health, beliefs, self-perception, our relationship with God and others, life’s circumstances, fatigue, abandonment, broken promises, loss, and many other things we can’t fix or change. And of course, Satan, our adversary, who is unsympathetic and ruthless, loves to piggyback on damaged emotions. (John 10:10)
I think of treatment for depression as a train on dual tracks. One track is organic - i.e. brain chemistry and physiology; the other track is spiritual and emotive - how we interpret what we feel and experience. If either track is ignored, the train isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Antidepressants are a gift from God, as is all medicine, but God didn’t create us to be strong without Him… so ride on both tracks. Medication can’t change circumstances or resolve personal or spiritual conflicts (such as unforgiveness). While it can help create a pathway to wholeness, medication alone is not a magic bullet. When hope has boarded the last train and optimism has taking the final flight, God plus medicine is a good combination.  
Depression affects all of us, or someone we love, on some level, at one time or another, believers and unbelievers alike. Martin Luther, who struggled with depression throughout his life said that the only way he could survive it “is believing in God against all odds. I must trust my physician,” he said, “not my pain.”
If you're depressed today and you haven’t seen a doctor, by all means go! Get help. But also, take some time to stop and read through this verse: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified… for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  (Deuteronomy 31:6)
God is telling you something, right now. He’s telling you, “I care. We’ll get through this  together.” Friend, you are not your diagnosis; you are a child of the Most High God. Hopelessness is a feeling, not a fact. Please, never  give up.   

Gary Black
Teaching Development Director

Yo-Yo: Roller Coaster (Bummed) - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Mar 09, 2017

Yesterday we talked about the need for stillness in our lives. In my own life I’ve discovered His presence and power most often… in silence. Like the tides that cleanse our shores and launch our ships, launched by the silent, silver moon - so is silence to the soul.
When springtime arrives, it doesn’t come with a trumpet blast or drum roll, it usually comes quietly… a blooming flower, a gentle breeze. If we don’t quiet ourselves, we miss the miracle of it all. God is like that, too. You’ll always find Him where the least noise is. He speaks loudest in solitude… stillness.
Country star Travis Tritt spent many years playing in out-of-the-way joints before he made it big. He says that many of the bars were dangerous, and drunken fans would start fights over the smallest matters. But he discovered a unique way to restore order. He just began to play and sing, “Silent Night.” Genius. “Whenever things got out of hand,” he said, “when the bikers were reaching for their pool cues and rednecks were heading for the gun rack, I would start playing Silent Night. Somehow, people always settled down, even in the middle of July.”
I used to think silence would make me more depressed; now I’ve learned to embrace it, even when I’m sad, especially when I’m sad, for it is there that I rediscover myself and God. It’s counterintuitive, I know. I’m not a doctor and this is not a cure. Please understand that. Will solitude help you? I don’t know, but I do know it helped me, and surprisingly, solitude (not isolation) was a pathway to healing. Sometimes we must embrace the things we fear most… and trust the things that make little sense. Go figure.
So here’s my advice: Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait. Behold. There’s something out there on the horizon for you. It’s called hope.    
Silent night,
 Holy night,
 All is calm,
 All is bright.
  • Go ahead, sing the whole song, then pray… and if time permits, email me and tell me what you learned.

Gary Black
Teaching Development Director

Yo-Yo: Roller Coaster (Bummed) - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Mar 08, 2017

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.
It’s hard to make good decisions when you’re running from something. After his epic victory over the 450 false prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, Elijah came eye-to-eye with an enemy’s death threat… and he ran. He didn’t stop to talk to God. He didn’t pray. He didn’t seek guidance or direction. He just ran, almost 100 miles away into the wilderness. He found a tree, slumped beneath it; then prayed, “God, take my life.”
I like this verse. I like the simple question God asked, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9b). It’s clear that he wasn’t in a place God led him to, but it’s also clear that God wasn’t  angry or judgmental. God didn’t punish him, or take him out of the prophet rotation. He simply met him where he was, in a very gentle way. The Bible says He spoke to Elijah with a still, small voice.... a whisper.  (1 Kings 19:13). It was as if God were saying, “You can’t hear my voice when you’re running away. Be still.”  
God has given me that same message, especially in times of discouragement and despair. The faster I run, the more I lose my way, until I eventually I crash and burn. But God gently says,  “Gary, what are you doing here? Aren’t you aware that I made you and love you? Don’t you remember My promises? Don’t you remember the times I picked you up, dusted you off, and set you on a better path? In spite of the pain, I’m still here, and I care.”   
When we’re depressed, we need empathy, not judgment. We need a fresh awareness of God’s presence, which is a spiritual antidepressant. Be still. God wants to communicate with you, and He wants you to know that your present situation isn’t your future destination. You’re gonna be okay.  
Max Lucado said, “If there were a thousand steps between us and God, He’ll take all but one.” That’s true. Be still, then… take a step toward your Father.

Gary Black
Teaching Development Director

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