Welcome to our RETURN Daily Devotional Series! Please scroll down for the previous day’s Devotional!
Return – Daily Devotion for January 27
Bio – I was raised in Downey, California. I’ve been married to Rick for 43 years, and we have three fantastic children – Kevin, Ryan and Amy who all married wonderful spouses and have blessed us with seven precious grandchildren. I went to Warren High School, Cerritos College, New Mexico State University and California State University-Los Angeles. I served on staff at Downey First Christian Church for 17 years and joined the staff of Christ’s Church of the Valley in 2006. I enjoy Francine Rivers novels, I am an enthusiastic fan of Dave Ramsey, and I have no particular interest in sporting events… unless they involve my grandchildren.
Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. James 4:8a (NASB)
I have faithfully attended church nearly every Sunday since I accepted Christ almost 40 years ago; but my relationship with God has varied greatly during that time. We don’t have to be missing from Sunday services to be in a place where we need to Draw near to God. It’s very easy to get caught up in the crazy schedules of our lives and to allow our personal time with God to slip farther and farther down our priority list. It’s not something we intend to happen; but sometimes it does.
A number of years ago, I was involved in a women’s Bible study that involved a serious level of commitment. I was not working outside the home at the time; and I spent the early morning hours five days a week exploring the scriptures in an in-depth study of God’s word. Then I spent two mornings a week meeting with other women and sharing the results of our study. Never in my life had I felt like I was walking as closely with God as I did during those years. Did I continue to enjoy that intimate relationship with God when I went to work outside the home and was not able to continue the study? Sadly, for a time, I did not – even though I went to work for a church!
I’m sure it’s happened to others. Your routine gets disrupted and your quiet time goes by the wayside; and it takes some intentional prioritizing and creative scheduling to reconnect with God on a consistent basis. But that’s what God desires – that we will return to him, reconnect with him and draw near to him. When we do, we can enjoy life abundantly – fully trusting God and relying on him for our strength, our hope and our future.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your promise that you will never leave me or forsake me. Forgive me for allowing other things to steal from my relationship with you. Help me to keep you first in my life and to make time to be present with you each day – reading your word and sharing my heart with you. Thank you for your promise also, that as I draw near to you, you will draw near to me. I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.
Return Daily Devotional January 26
I am a So-Cal surfer guy that found his way into the San Joaquin Valley. With me I brought my amazing wife and 3 awesome kids – a seven year old boy, and five and three year old little girls. In 2006 I graduated from Hope International University with a BA in Youth Ministry and Biblical Studies.
To really grasp the depth of this story we have to read it as a first century Hebrew would have. We are a very familial and patriarchal culture. We work hard to keep the 10 commandments, the law of God. We are very big on respect, and very concerned about our family name. We also think pigs are super dirty (that will make sense later). Now that you are thinking like a first century Hebrew, read the parable;
11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. 17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” ’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
We often focus on the prodigal son as the object of the parable (a story told to teach a lesson), but really the development of his story is there to fully reveal the reaction of his father. So let’s start there.
What we first notice about the son is that he asks his father for his inheritance while the father is still very much alive, is essence saying he’d rather have the money than a relationship with his father. Slap in the face one
Next, after the father gives his son what he wanted, the son spent it in reckless living (if you read further than the scripture above the older brother believes some of the money was spend on prostitutes). He broke the Law of God and while doing that dragged his family name through the mud. Couple more slaps in the fathers face.
Finally, we see him taking a job feeding pigs, which his culture would not only find disgusting, but we also see didn’t pay well since he longed to eat what he was feeding them. What I wonder is how long did he stay in this spot, wondering which would be worse, to stay here, or to return home broke, humiliated, and likely to be met with scorn and rejection from his father. Eventually he chooses to return and beg to be one of his father’s servants.
This is important, he chooses to return even though he believes that the best he can do is return as a servant and not a son, he returns to the father. At this point he Hebrews listening to this story would fully expect the father to turn the son away. But that’s not what happens.
The father sees his son from a long way off. He runs to the son, an action considered undignified, especially given the son’s behavior. He welcomes his son home, and throws a major party for him. This is probably the complete opposite reaction from what the listeners would have expected.
I think you have caught this important bit of information; God is the Father. Sometimes, we are like the prodigal son. For some reason we have wandered away from God. We may not have lived like that son, but we also didn’t live like a son (or daughter). And like the prodigal son we long to go back but we assume we will be met with scorn, rejection, and those words we never like to hear, “I told you so.” So we wait it out, hope things will get better, or try to get really busy so that we can ignore that longing in our hearts that say, “just go home.”
So what is holding you back from going home? Pride? If the son held onto his pride he would’ve starved.
Embarrassment? The only person who was embarrassed when the son returned was the Father when He ran out to embrace his disgraces son
Fear of rejection? Again, the running Father, the embrace, the party, the clothes…
We assume that God is mad, when really He is longing for us to come home. Maybe you feel like the decisions you’ve been making or the baggage from your past have caused distance between you and God. This story teaches us that if we humbly return home, He will embrace us and welcome us back into His home.
Father, there are things on my mind that make me feel like I am an unworthy son or daughter and they have kept me from really retuning to you. Here they are;________get them off your chest______. Dad, I want to return home. Thank you for allowing me to come home and welcoming we me joy and celebration.
Return – Daily Devotion for January 25, 2015
Welcome to the first daily devotion for our “Return” campaign! My hope and prayer for
you is that you can reconnect with God in a significant way each and every day over the next 22 days. As you may know, this is part of an integrated spiritual growth campaign we’re doing at CCV which has three components – Sunday worship (attending Sunday worship services each week for four weeks), scripture memory (a theme verse for each of the four weeks) and daily devotions (an online devotion on the week’s topic that you read each day). This is the first of the daily devotionals that you will find posted here each day, written by different members of our staff.
Each devotion will have the same format – a scripture to read, some observations about the scripture that the author makes, how to apply that truth to your everyday life and a prayer. You’ll also see a brief bio of the author so you can get to know our staff better.
Bio – It’s me, Pastor Kevin. I was born in Idaho, but grew up in Arizona. I’ve been married to Brenda for 22 years, and we have two wonderful children – Jonah, a senior, and Benny, a freshman. I went to college at Arizona State, Manhattan Christian College and Hope International University. I’m a student of history, a fan of the Arizona Cardinals and a follower of Jesus Christ.
Submit to God, and you will have peace; then things will go well for you. Listen to his instructions, and store them in your heart. If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored—so clean up your life.
The first thing that jumps out to me about this passage is the first word – submit. That’s not a word we typically like very much, and yet it leads off this passage.
There is an interesting progression here. You start with submission. Then you receive peace. We can’t experience true peace in our lives without first submitting our lives to God. Once we have peace, then things begin to go well in our lives. That can’t happen, though, without peace. Which flows from submission to God.
Next we learn how to better submit to God. We need to first listen to God. He’s got to get our attention. That’s what this discipline of daily time is all about – giving God a place in our daily schedule. Allowing Him time to speak to us through His word.
It’s not enough to simply hear what God has to say. We have to think it over. That’s what storing God’s word in our hearts means. Thinking over what God has to say to us enough so that His word takes root in our hearts.
Returning to God is the next thing Job talks about. Most scholars agree that Job is the oldest book in the Bible, with the action taking place some time before Moses’ life and the giving of the Law. I find it interesting that the need to return to God is found right here, from the very beginning.
Then restoration comes. Restoration is all about getting something back to its original state or form. In this case, it’s about our relationship with God. We naturally experience spiritual drift. If we don’t make constant efforts to keep our relationship with God fresh, it will eventually go stale.
Then finally Job talks about the need to clean up our lives as part of the restoration process. Notice that this step is the last, not the first. If we try to clean ourselves up spiritually with our own strength and power, we are doomed to fail. It’s only in the context of a rich relationship with God that we can make any progress in removing the “sin that so easily entangles us” from our lives.
It all starts with submission. The question I need to ask myself is, “Am I fully submitted to God?” It’s tempting to be partially submitted to God. To say “yes” to God in one area of my life, while “saying “no” somewhere else. In fact, we congratulate ourselves, thinking that at least there are some areas of our lives that God gets, even if He doesn’t have everything. I mean, something is better than nothing, right?
But it doesn’t work that way in my other intimate relationships. I’d rather be single than have a spouse who is only partially faithful to me. Even mostly faithful does not cut it. For me, it’s all or nothing.
God feels the same way. He wants all of you. So let me ask you, are you fully submitted to God? Does He come first in every area of your life? What about money? Do you put him first in your finances through your giving? What about sex? Are you practicing sexual purity? What about your time? Does God have a place in your daily schedule? Your talents? Are you serving God regularly through your local church?
We all want what God has to offer. The better life that Jesus promised. But are we willing to do what it takes to get it?
Heavenly Father, I confess that there are times that you don’t come first in my life. Times when I come first. I confess that there are area in my life where you aren’t honored. I am instead. I acknowledge my need for you, and my desire to return to you and be restored by you each and every day. Thanks for forgiving me through Jesus. Help me to fully submit to you in every area of I pray this in Jesus’ name.