Devotion

The angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land I swore to give to your ancestors. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.’ Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? And I have also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; they will become traps for you, and their gods will become snares to you.’”

After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the Lord’s anger because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. In his anger against Israel the Lord gave them into the hands of raiders who plundered them. He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the Lord was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.

Judges 2:1-3, 10-15

These are very sobering words and sound all too familiar. While Christians around the world are giving up everything for the sake of the gospel, American Christians are raising a generation “who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done” for us. The consequences of this are severe.

In an article written in Christianity Today about a tiny village church way up in the mountains of a country where Christianity is not welcome, the author wrote this about the pastor of that church:

Before the meeting, the church’s pastor had shared with me that his non-Christian parents died when he was just 15. A few years later, someone shared the gospel with him for the first time. He trusted in Jesus and was baptized, but as soon as this happened, the rest of his family abandoned him. His brothers told him to never come back, and he lost the inheritance his parents had left him. But this pastor and his people believe that Jesus is worth it. “Jesus is worth losing your family,” the pastor told me.

Then he quoted Mark 10:29–30, saying,

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus said, “there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, who will not receive a hundred times more, now at this time—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and eternal life in the age to come.”

David Platt, Christianity Today, October 3, 2019

Jesus is worth it. Could most American Christians say that? Americans can sit through 3 hour football games with complete focus but struggle to sit through 1 hour worship services. American Christians complain about their ADHD during a 30 minute sermon but are able to watch a 2 and a half hour movie or binge-watch 3 hours of Netflix.

The issue is not our attention span. The issue is what we love most. And, unfortunately, it’s not Jesus. To the American Christian, Jesus is not worth it. We struggle to give Jesus a few minutes of our time let alone our family. We are masters at worshipping the gods of our culture and infants when it comes to worshiping our Lord and Savior. The global church has a lot to teach us about what real devotion looks like.

Lord, please forgive us! Forgive us for breaking covenant with you. Forgive us for worshiping the gods of this culture. Forgive us for prioritizing entertainment and comfort over our love for you. Forgive us for being a church that is sleep walking. Wake us up, Lord!

First Love

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.

Revelation 2:1-4

The church in Ephesus was working hard and persevering under trial without growing weary. They are to be commended for doing what many churches do not in recognizing false teachings. Yet, Jesus calls them back to their first love. He implores them to “do the things you did at first“(Revelation 2:5).

This is one of the keys to deepening our relationship with Jesus. So often we must return to child-like faith–child-like dependence and trust in the Father. Kids live with a freedom and a joy that is often absent in adults. They live unafraid of what others will think of them in the moment. They enjoy giving love to and receiving love from their parents. If we want to take the next step in our journey with the Lord, it will often look like returning to what we did at first when we became a Christian.

So many people start their journey with the Lord excited, full of faith, spending time in God’s word, and spending abundant time in worship and prayer. Then life happens and we move away from these as if they are somehow less necessary as we grow in Christ.

But the reality is that triathlon athletes need more food not less. Body builders need more protein not less. The stronger we get the more fuel we need. The more elite athletes need not only more fuel but better fuel for their bodies. This same principle is true of us spiritually.

If we want to continue to grow in Christ as we get older, we need more time with Him, not less. We need more of God’s word, more time in prayer, more moments of worship, not less. It is striking how many so-called “mature” Christians don’t spend any time with the Lord. It is even more shocking how many ministers hardly have a prayer life, hardly read the word (unless they’re getting ready for a sermon) and only worship on Sundays. This is mostly true in America because the Church around the world knows it can’t afford to dabble in such foolishness.