Did you know that bulls actually don’t mind the color red? They are just super mad at the matador. Go figure. 

Did you know that Napoleon Bonaparte was actually considered tall for his time in history? I mean he was still 5 foot 7, but…. 

Or Christmas. Did you know Jesus was NOT born on December 25th?  

Or that there is nowhere in scripture that points you to name something you want and claim it as your own, and God will make it happen.

So many times we just assume because someone said it, it has to be true. Even in our faith journey, there’s things we believe God said that he simply did not. As the church, we must seek out what God says and what that means for our everyday lives. Sometimes, we just have to go back to the drawing board.

 

This Week's Devotion & Questions

Lists are great. They help us stay organized, remind us what needs to get done by the end of the day and even give us a feeling of accomplishment when we check off each item. But lists have their own issues. Besides the oh-so-common problem of misplacing them, there’s also the mistake of over-listing. Putting every little to-do down until we’re overwhelmed by the enormity of our task. Another mistake is being wooed by the check-mark and losing sight of why those items were on the list to begin with. Making dinner isn’t just a task to be marked off, but an opportunity to show love to our family and ourselves.

Spiritual Disciplines like prayer too often fall into that latter category. We all know we need prayer. God commands us to pray and Jesus spent the first half of Luke 11 teaching the disciples how to do it. So we know it’s a task that should be accomplished. But James 5 teaches us that prayer is about more than following directions and checking a box. In the Amplified Bible James 5:16 reads, “The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” Heartfelt and persistent. That sounds a lot like faith, doesn’t it?

Another way of saying it is believing instead of behaving. It’s fine to put prayer on our list. If you’re like me, you probably need that reminder some days. But it’s one of those tasks where we can’t lose sight of its purpose. Prayer is about actively connecting to God. So let's ditch the check-mark.

1: What was one thing from the sermon that impacted you this week?

2: In your own words, what is the difference between “behaving” and “believing”?

3: Read James 5:13-16. How has a prayer of faith impacted your life or the life of someone you know?

Last Week's Devotion & Questions

There is a scene in the movie “Hacksaw Ridge” where Private Desmond Doss is standing alone. The rest of his infantry unit has retreated, one of his squad mates is lying dead at his feet and friendly bombs are raining down all around him. In this moment it’s as though all the destruction and chaos caused by one of the deadliest battles in World War II finally hits Doss and he cries out to God, “What is it you want of me? I don’t understand. I can’t hear you.” In a movie that’s as much about faith as it is about heroism, that is quite a plea. And it’s one that most of us have probably echoed at some point or another.

At the heart of the matter is the issue of kingdoms–who or what are we allowing to reign over our lives? In James 4 a clear line is drawn in the sand between giving in to the world and pressing in to God. The more we give into our selfish desires and temporary pleasures, the further away from God we get. And the harder it is to hear Him. On the other hand, verse 8 says, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” In “Hacksaw Ridge” when Doss cries out to God, there is a moment's pause where you wonder if God has really deserted him after all. And then he hears a cry from the battlefield, a soldier calling for help. God’s answer. Putting his helmet back on, Doss turns away from safety and disappears into the haze. Obediently answering God’s call, he saves seventy-five injured soldiers from the top of that ridge.

1: What does it mean to submit to God in James 7?

2: How is pride an issue of the heart?

3: Think of a way you have been giving in to the world. How can you press into God in that area of your life this week?