September 23rd

Heaven: A Study of Our Home

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.' Then the Jews said to Him, You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?' Jesus said to them, Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.' John 8:56-58

Our world is all about connection. Never before has being connected been so easy, so important, or so constant. Every new technology that is produced is made with connectivity in mind. The internet birthed social networking. Then wireless internet expanded our ability to connect. Then smart phones came with 3G and 4G connections, speeding up and spreading out our connections. Now not just desktops, laptops, and smart phones, but tablets, televisions, and even glasses are keeping us connected like never before.

Now, I'm glad you're almost maxing out your friend limit on Facebook, but what I'm really more concerned about today is, are you connected to God?

Because, see, just as there are technologies that we need in order to stay connected to one another, God has provided heavenly technologies, so to speak, for us to be able to stay connected with Him. And believe me, if you aren't more connected to God than you are to your Twitter followers, you have a big problem.

God's chief connection technology is called prayer. I know, it sounds so simple, and it really is. But this prayer connection is more powerful than your power-boosted high speed internet.

Take Solomon for example. In his early years, when he built the Temple and dedicated it, he prayed a magnificent prayer that all of us would be proud to have prayed. More than that, his prayer life is what connected him to God so that he could get his amazing gift of wisdom. In other words, every wonderful thing that Solomon ever did, he did because he had prayed at one point in his life.

But if you know his story, Solomon didn't finish well. By the end of his life, he was worshiping idols and spreading their pagan filth through all of Israel. What happened? He lost the connection, not because God's receiver stopped working, but because he stopped transmitting anything. And when there was no connection, there was no power, no presence, and no perspective.

Listen, your God in Heaven has more resources available to you than Apple, Google, and Facebook's app stores combined. Stay connected to what really matters. Stay connected to God through prayer.

Prayer Father God,

Thank You for reminding me to stay connected to what's most important and teaching me how to keep that connection strong. Please teach me to pray; teach me to stay connected to Your heart!

Amen

Horizon Church
September 22nd

When the Church Gets It Wrong

For I fear...lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbiting, whisperings, conceits, tumults. 2 Corinthians 12:20

Distraction. It's a big issue these days, is it not? I mean, how many states have enacted some form of legislation to ban texting while driving? And some places don't even let you talk on a cell phone at all while you're driving, and some only if it's with hands free devices. Distraction is no less of an issue in churches, as not only do we face all the issues that the instant connection of technology brings, but we face all kinds of other distractions as well. There's the distraction of worship. People say all kinds of things. Didn't like it. Too fast. Too slow. Too new. Too old. I like the hymnals. You like PowerPoint on a screen. And that church over there? Man, they're still stuck on overhead slides! As if the technology we use during the music portion of a service could somehow serve as a barometer for our love for God. The real barometer there is your response to the technology and style-can you overcome the hurdle of your preferences, or do you love your preferences more than you love God?

There's the distraction of teaching and preaching. That preacher preached too long. This one offended me. And I just didn't like the sound of that other guy's voice; boy, he just picked the wrong job! Seriously. Don't shop for your church, looking for someone to tell you all the things you want to hear. Instead, find a church that preaches the Word of God purely and simply, but that also won't let you get by just learning the Word, leading you beyond that into living it.

Even miracles can be a distraction. Now, let me be clear, I have seen miracles and I sincerely believe that miracles belong in the Church today. However, I've also seen churches where miracles have become the main show, like they've somehow become more important than the most important miracle of Jesus' death and resurrection. Every other miracle serves to demonstrate the love of God that was most supremely demonstrated on the cross to save us from sin, death, Hell, and the grave and remind us of the most chief of all miracles-salvation.

The point is that churches get it wrong when they take the focus off of God. When anything else becomes the main point, it's a distraction that keeps us from entering into the best God has for us.

What's taking your eyes off of God today? Give it over to Him and choose to focus your heart on Him alone.

Prayer Lord God,

Thanks for refocusing me! I give to You my circumstances, hopes and dreams, family, work, and everything else to You and I choose to set my eyes on You today. Fill my heart and lead me into all You have for me!

Amen

Horizon Church
September 21st

Core Values

For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:2-3

What are the priorities in your life? Have you defined them?

I hope so, because what happens when we don't define our priorities is we get blown around by whatever wheel squeaks the loudest in our lives and we end up off track from where we ought to be.

Our priorities have to come from our core values, so let's define that. A core value is simply an agreed-upon driving force, priorities that you stick with, principles that guide and drive you as an individual, family, or organization.

As a family of believers or as a family in your home, it is absolutely necessary to live by defined core values. So let me suggest a core value for you, namely, the authority of the Bible. Looking back on fifteen years of ministry, I know for a fact that God has faithfully blessed and shined His favor upon the fact that we have held up His truth as our authority.

God said it, and that settles it. That's our motto, and I suggest that it becomes yours.

Now let's bring this home to our daily lives: Are the priorities of your life as a single teenager, as a college student on a secular, humanistic university, as a single adult, as a brand-new married husband and wife, as brand-new parents, are the priorities of your life consistent with Scripture? Are we holding God's book up as being separate and unique in a category all of its own, distinct from any other book?

You may have heard me say that I read a lot of books, and I do, but there's only one book that reads me. It is living; it is active; it is sharper than a two-edged sword. It has the ability to reset the direction of a person's life. And it all comes down to whether or not you will place in your life the priority and value of Biblical authority.

The Bible is God speaking to you. Let that sink in, and then embrace His Word as the authority over your life.

Prayer Lord Jesus,

Thank You for giving us the Bible! I know today that there is no other authority for my life and faith that I can trust like Your Word. Please open my eyes and ears to understand what You are saying to me!

Amen

Horizon Church
September 20th

The Promise of the Presence of the Power of the Holy Spirit

If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them in the body just as He pleased. 1 Corinthians 12:17-18

Do you ever look at the people around you and compare yourself to them? Do you hear those voices in your head, accusing you of all those things that seem and feel like such terrible shortcomings?

You do? Good, because God can set you free from that as you read this today.

Look back at the verses today and answer this question: Who gets to pick the part that you play? Who decides which gift you get?

Answer: God does. To His own pleasure and glory, He has placed you where He wants you to be planted, to bloom forth a great harvest of fruit for the glory of His name.

You've got to get to the point of saying, If it's good enough for God, it's good enough for me, instead of this continual comparing that goes, Why did he get that gift? Why didn't I get that gift?

Imagine that you're holding an orange seed in one of your hands and a grapefruit seed in the other. They don't look all that different from each other, do they? But even though they look similar, I don't think they're confused.

We all get confused about, Well, what is my gift and what is my purpose and who am I supposed to be? I don't think for even a single second that the orange seed looks at the grapefruit seed and says, Have you decided what you want to be when you grow up? I don't they're wasting any time. It isn't sort of like, Yeah, I haven't decided yet. I think I need to take some time off to go find myself.

No. Even though they look very similar on the outside, built into these seeds into their very DNA and heart and structure of who they are is exactly the purpose for which God has created them.

Church, this is to be our life and our dependency upon Him in just allowing him to have His way and being so grateful that He's chosen to love us. The gifts that He has given to you are the gifts in you that bring Him pleasure. But as we all, in these diverse gifts, unite ourselves in one calling, God is so pleased, and the Church is so strong.

Please don't counterfeit and copycat someone else through comparison. Be the original you that God created you to be.

Prayer Father God,

Thank You that You created me to be unique and special, and that me being me really is important! Now please help me to know who You created me to be and show me how to live to the fullest of who I am!

Amen

Horizon Church
September 19th

Leadership at Work and Home

He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. Proverbs 29:1

Some people go to state school. Some people go to community college. Some go to Ivy League schools. Some don't go at all.

But then there are those people who get their degree from SHK. Do you know what that one is? The School of Hard Knocks, where you know someone's enrollment status by whether or not they have figured out how to stop getting lumps on their head.

All of us know someone who has attended this unfortunate school, and many of us spent some time there as well. But what God wants to help us avoid is a hardening of our hearts that keeps us from learning when we are disciplined and rebuked.

A good example for us to look at to better understand our verse is King Saul. You see, King Saul was someone who hardened his neck when he was rebuked. No matter how much or how sternly Samuel warned him, Saul continued to insist on doing things his own way. Finally, Samuel makes the big confrontation, delivering this whopper of a line: For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry (1 Samuel 15:23).

Did you catch that? Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. Now, this is huge, because within the home, especially with kids, you're eventually going to be challenged regarding your leadership. In fact, there are quite a few people who would say, Well, rebellion is just part of adolescence. And, here we know from scripture that this is an absolute lie.

No, rebellion isn't just part of growing up. Stubbornness isn't just a part of growing up. You shouldn't expect these things from your children any more than you would expect them to worship demons or bow down to statues. Instead, expect godliness!

So what do you do if your children act rebelliously? First of all, repent for allowing it just because society tells us to expect it. Second, you probably don't want to read this devotional to them. I don't think that will help you. However, what will help you is that you simply continue to pursue the Lord, asking Him to help you live His love and godliness as a living example of Him to your kids.

In other words, make sure there's no rebellion in you, then let your example set the standard for your home. Let your leadership be first seen, and then heard. Let it first be in your heart, so that it may then spread to the hearts of your children.

Prayer Father God,

Thank You that You know how to be a good parent! I need to learn from You, so please teach me. Help me to be right before You so that I may lead as You lead!

Amen

Horizon Church
September 18th

Just Making Sure

Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past. For behold, the LORD comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth will also disclose her blood, and will no more cover her slain. Isaiah 26:20-21

Life is full of choices. We've all heard that, right? But here's one choice you don't want to miss: Enter God's rest or face His wrath.

I know, that doesn't sound like much of a choice, does it? It's like, gee, let me think about that one for a second. No, the choice is obvious there, but what a lot of people don't realize is that they are flirting with wrath instead of choosing to rest.

Look again at our verses today and let me tell you what they mean. God is calling His people to come to Him, everyone who will come, just come and be safe. Come and be safe, just like Noah and his family were safe in the ark when the flood came, just like Moses and the Israelites were safe when the angel of death passed over Egypt and killed all the firstborn.

In those stories, everyone who entered their chambers and shut their doors behind them were safe. God protected them until the punishment was past. A day is coming soon when God will pour out His wrath on the earth-a day called the Great Tribulation, a seven year period in which the vast majority of people will die, the earth will be filled with natural disasters like never before, and fire will rain down from Heaven.

But God calls us away from this wrath. In fact, 1 Thessalonians 5:9 tells us, For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. This is God's desire for us, that like a good groom, He will take us as His bride away from the destruction before it happens, hiding us away from it until it is done.

This is His desire, it's what He wants, but we still have a choice to make. Will we choose to rest in the work of Jesus on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins? Or will we choose trust in something else-ourselves, our church membership, our good and moral life, our Christian parents, or some other thing?

Only one thing will save us from God's wrath, and it is choosing to rest in Jesus today.

Prayer Lord Jesus,

Thank You that You desire to save me from wrath! I certainly want to be saved from wrath, and I realize that means that I need You. Please forgive me today for my sins and save me from Your coming wrath!

Amen

Horizon Church
September 17th

Wise-Up

Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:6-8

The opposite of belief isn't atheism. That might be news for some of you, but it's true. The opposite of belief isn't atheism, it's idolatry.

The people in Corinth in Paul's day had a long list of things they worshiped-power, wealth, intelligence, sex, youth, beauty, luck, music, healing, comfort, and more-and our society worships these exact same things. In fact, in our culture this has simplified into one looming image as we worship ourselves; mere mortals worshiping other mere mortals.

I watched a secular concert once on television and the whole crowd was up on their feet with their hands in the air, swaying back and forth. That was far more exuberant worship than it ever gets in most churches, but who was it for? For Taylor Swift? For Cyrus? For Eminem?

The problem here is that we become like that which we worship. You run by the local middle school and you see a bunch of Eminem look-a-likes running around. You have an outof-control issue with ten, eleven, and twelve year old girls who want thong underwear because that's what is being held up as the standard for our society.

But Paul breaks in to the middle of this scene and says, Hold on, church. This way the world is going is nonsense. And you can easily hear the world's response, and maybe you're saying this, too: But I want it, so I want you to tell me that what I want is right.

I won't tell you that what you want is right.

But I want it!

Even if it's wrong? Even if it hurts someone? Even if it breaks the heart of God?

Yes, I don't care. I want it. That's what the world says; that's what pride says, digging in its heels and insisting on what it wants, never honoring God.

But wisdom honors God, and is rewarded for it. Jesus asked, What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:36). We can idolize ourselves and worship all the gods of Corinth, but it's a perverted, pride-filled life destined for Hell.

Choose wisdom today. Honor God in your choices and worship Him alone. Only then do you have hope, both now for this life and for life everlasting in heaven.

Prayer Father God,

You are the only God worthy of worship! I'm sorry for any way that I have worshiped the gods of this world-the gods of self-but I repent now and ask You to lead me in the way of wisdom.

Amen

Horizon Church