Day 11 – December 13 – Thursday

IMAGINE: A Caring God (God Always Provides)

A God Who Provides A Mission

Genesis 12:1-3

Can you imagine being placed in a situation such as Abraham? To leave all that you have ever known and to go to a place you know absolutely nothing about! Another way God could have communicated to Abraham is: TRUST in me, TRUST in my mission for you, and I will bless you amazingly.

Are you on a mission so valuable, so compelling, so urgent, that is worth giving up all you have…even your comfort zone?

Have you discovered your mission in life?

Are you willing to step back from your own situation long enough to really focus in on who you are, to discover your purpose in life?

Jesus certainly left his comfort zone in order to meet our needs for salvation! IMAGINE…being God’s only son, living in Heaven will all the splendor and glory deserved him, leaving his Heavenly body to descend to earth and live in human for with dust, dirt, temptation, sinful people and thing all around. IMAGINE…being born to a virgin, ridiculed, persecuted, shouted at, scoffed at, spit upon, falsely accused, eaten tortured, crucified. Surely there was a mission involved…and there was. Jesus said, “I have come the they may have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

I am so glad to be part of Southport Heights Christian Church because she has a mission! Are you familiar with the entire mission statement? You should be very familiar with the shortened version…Love God, Love People, Make Disciples…but the whole statement is: Southport Heights Christian Church honors God by loving Jesus, loving others, and inviting all into the adventure of serving Him”

How do you fit into this mission? Are you a part of it? Are you willing to “are you willing to leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you” as Abraham did?

IMAGINE…a church whose mission is clear, whose members mature, ministry and multiply in order to magnify God’s name.

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

Day 10 – December 12 – Wednesday

IMAGINE: A Creative God (Creation implies ownership)

A God Who Can Be Trusted

Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Have you seen the popular church sign that reads, “Is God your co-pilot? If so, move over and give him the controls.”

Can you IMAGINE taking a 40-day journey with Jesus and never really giving him the controls? Ask yourself these questions as you take time with God today:
Are you reading this as you maneuver your vehicle through traffic on the way to work?
Or is it the end of the day and you are half asleep as you read this devotional?
Have you made this 40 day journey a priority in your life or have you skipped a couple days?
Are you serious about meeting God direct your life? All of it? Even in IMAGINE?

LET TODAY BE THE DAY THAT GOD TAKES OVER! LET GOD HAVE THE CONTROLS!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Not some of it – all of it! Give it all to him; so he can mold you. Seek God with all your heart.
Lean not on your own understanding. Think God might know just a little bit more than you? Read his word today…let him speak to you. Pray for what he wants you to do — then stop and listen for that still small voice.
In all your ways acknowledge him. This means at home, work, school, shopping, exercising…in everything you do acknowledge him. Do not compartmentalize God. He is not a Sunday only God.
He will make your paths straight. The shortest distance between you and God is a straight line. Stop the detours. Men…we need to ask for directions — please. Let’s take this journey together and follow the road that Jesus took.

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

Day 9 – December 11 – Tuesday

IMAGINE: A Creative God (Creation implies ownership)

A God Who Makes Covenants

Genesis 9:13-16

It was one of those hot days, and I was headed to Round Lake Christian Assembly for a meeting. And all of the sudden we had one of those five minute down pours. And then the sun broke through and I saw the most incredible double rainbow. No one else anywhere close. It was as if God created this incredible display just for me, and I reveled in its beauty. This was before cell phones…so no pictures…hahaha.

It have been like that for Noah. When he exited the ark, he behold a newly washed world. God set a rainbow in the middle of the clouds as a sign of an agreement with Noah. God said, “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you — the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, and all those that came out of the ark with you — every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth,” Genesis 9:8-11…I wonder if Noah got a double rainbow.

A covenant is a promise, an agreement, a treaty, a contract, and a testament. It is an agreement between two or more parties stating the conditions and promises agreed upon. An individual who spends half a day signing mortgage papers establishes a covenant. The lending company promises to provide a certified check. The purchaser agrees to make the payments. As in any covenant, there are parties, conditions, and promises.

When we became Christians, we entered into a covenant agreement with God. We promised to love, serve, and obey Him. He promised to bring us into a full relationship with him. We are now part of a covenant people. Each Lord’s Day we experience a reminder of our agreement with God. Paul quotes Jesus as saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood…” 1Corinthians 11:25

Now here is the deal! As we continue in the covenant agreement with God, he promises to provide for us and to care for us. He will never see his children go begging for bread (Psalm 37:25). No matter what we face, no matter how difficult the times, God cares for us. It is a matter of trust! It is part of God’s covenant with us.

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

Day 8 – December 10 – Monday

IMAGINE: A Creative God (Creation implies ownership)

A God Who Calls Men To Purpose

Genesis 6:11-22

God’s plan for mankind is clearly revealed through the Bible, beginning in Genesis and ending with the new heaven and earth of Revelation 21 and 22. God requires the obedience mentioned in our previous devotion (Day 7), but he also gives us the know-how to accomplish that obedience.

Genesis 6:11-22 details God’s plan to destroy the wickedness that was rampant on earth. But even in His indignation, His purpose of salvation for man was already in place. Noah, while not sinless, walked with God. Because of his Godly life, God laid out a plan for Noah and his family to follow, which was straight forward, detailed, and explicit. The plan was easy to follow and yet required great faith.

Noah and his family had never seen rain, had no idea what was meant by a flood, undoubtedly suffered ridicule from those who lived around them, and surely had to wonder at the creatures that would come to them and the amount of food necessary to feed all of them. Yet, Noah’s family followed God’s purpose without question.

Our faith in Christ parallels that of Noah and his family. They entered the ark of safety and separation and were literally taken under the waters, which typifies the baptism that saves us, as explained in 1Peter 3:20,21.

Our purpose is to follow God’s leading without question, even when we don’t always understand His purpose. God’s promise to us is found in Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purpose.”

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

Day 7 – December 9 – Sunday

IMAGINE: A Creative God (Creation implies ownership)

A God Who Sets Standards

Genesis 1-7

Arguments continue to rage about whether or not to pass the Ten Commandments on public sites. I continue to see signs on lawns stating the homeowners support the display of these Commandments. At the same time, the ACLU continues to support those who yearn for their removal from the public square.

What most do not understand is that God gave these laws to the descendants of Abraham. They comprise a part of the moral, civil, and ceremonial laws provided for the Jewish people. Prior to the Ten Commandments is a series of principles God intended to apply to all humanity, called the Creation Ordinances, these standards can be discovered with careful reading of Genesis 1-9.

Time and space do not permit me to record these ordinances. But let me share just a couple: the first is found in Genesis 2:24, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” While Paul commends a single lifestyle for those committed to God’s work, most of us will marry. Jesus points to this ordinance during his life and ministry. God’s ordinance here says men and women should form a permanent union called marriage. He does not look with favor on relationships that form outside of that commitment.

Another of these ordinances can be seen in Genesis 9:6, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.” Here God clearly stipulated that the only appropriate punishment for premeditated murder, and that what the passage means, is the death of the perpetrator. It is precisely because man is created in God’s image that human life is so vital.

What does all of this say to us today? It says that God is not the god of “whatever”. He is a God who is holy and holiness requires standards. God’s actions are always determined by his holiness. In fact the ultimate and primary characteristic of God is not love — it is holiness. From God’s holiness come the twin attributes of love and justice. God’s actions toward you and me are always filtered through his holiness first, then he acts in loving kindness in a way that satisfies his just nature.

Since God created us in his image, he wants you to be holy. Living a holy life can’t be done without standards. As followers of Jesus, we look to him as an example of the standards God requires, for he is the only one to demonstrate them to perfection. As we strive toward Christ-likeness, we seek to live as he lived. We seek to build into our lives the principles and standards that identify us as his people!

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

Day 6 – December 8 – Saturday

IMAGINE: A Creative God (Creation implies ownership)

A God Who Requires Obedience

Genesis 1:29-30; 4:2b-7

When you think of the word obedience, it seems very adultish. You know, something that we as adults use on our kids to get them to act in the way that we think is proper. “Obey…or else” is usually our means of getting them to carry out our wishes.

But how many time have you considered what the role of obedience is for us as the adults? Often we get so busy with telling our kids to obey that we don’t look at our own actions to see that we are obeying too!

The first children that were brought into this world were Cain and his younger brother Abel. We’re told that Cain was a tiller of the ground, a farmer. One who worked the soils and brought forth good things to eat. Abel, on the other hand, was a rancher – one who tended to sheep. We’re not told directly in the account, but there is a strong inference that God required a sacrifice. If you’ve read any of the account in Leviticus concerning the proper way to sacrifice, you’ll know that God has some very specific ideas about how He wants it done. (See Leviticus 1-7)

Apparently Cain offered that which he had. After all, it seems like an adequate gift. It was his, and he willingly gave it up for the sake of God. But God was not satisfied with the gift! In fact, to add insult to injury, God had respect for the sacrifice of Abel. That word respect in the Hebrew means “to gaze, to look, to regard”. God looked at Abels sacrifice much like a parent would “ooohh and aaahh” over the crayon picture of a four year old. If He had a refrigerator, He would have hung the sacrifice there for all the angels to see.

Cain allowed his disobedience to give a foothold for sin to come in and allow bitterness and anger to take over. God never intended that obedience be a negative thing; it should always be a joyful experience. He would rather we obey than sacrifice! The fact is that, when obedience is the seat of our lifestyle, then sacrifice will be our first act of obedience.

(See Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 28:1; 30:16; Psalm 40; Jeremiah 7:23; 22:4; Luke 17:6)

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

Day 5 – December 7 – Friday

IMAGINE: A Creative God (Creation implies ownership)

A God Who Delegates Stewardship

Genesis 1:28-30

“God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground’ Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plan on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all creatures that move on the ground — everything that has the breath of life in it — I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so.”
Anyone who is involved in ministry in church today understands the importance of delegation. Either we have been delegated a responsibility or we have delegated responsibility to someone else. If we are to accomplish significant goals, such as those in our Imagine Initiative, then delegation is a must. Many times watching others succeed is much more gratifying than succeeding yourself.
Delegation, however, is not something new. It began when God created the earth and everything in it and then said to Adam and Eve, “Manage It”. God delegated the responsibility of managing His creation to Adam and Eve. He gave them charge of caring for all that he had placed on the earth. God, who does not change, passed that same responsibility of stewardship to you and I.
If Moses were writing Genesis today, he might refer to your family, home, car, and money instead of birds, fish, trees, plants, etc. The things have changed since God first delegated stewardship to Adam and Eve, but the principle is still true.
In your family devotion time, encourage each family member to name those things they have in their life with which God has entrusted them. Take time to thank God for the trust he has placed in you to give you such things to manage.
I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

Day 4 – December 6 – Thursday

IMAGINE: A Creative God (Creation implies ownership)

A God Who Desires Relationship

Genesis 3-4

Can you remember your high school days. Can you remember that one incredibly good looking girl or guy? I can…she was a total knock out…the most beautiful girl that I had ever laid my eyes on. Now, before you go looking for Joan…this was 5 years before I met Joan…once I met Joan everything changed. Joan is absolutely the most beautiful woman in the world to me…keep in mind that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, right?
Well, back in high school I hoped beyond hope that a relationship would develop with this girl. However, I was a freshman…she was a senior. She graduated and went off to college, and here is the catch, I never even spoke to her. Now I know that some of you find my shyness very hard to believe…I was only 15. I have no idea where she may be today. The fact is that I wanted a relationship, but I did absolutely nothing to make it happen.
God wanted a relationship with Adam and Eve…AND he wants one with us. Whereas I did nothing to encourage a relationship with the girl from my high school, God has done everything to make a relationship with Him happen. I IMAGINE the Garden of Eden must have been one wonderful place. Brown County State Park is my favorite park that I have visited here in Indiana. It provides something for everyone. God’s beautiful “park”, the Garden of Eden, provided everything that Adam and Eve needed. And even though sin destroyed what could have been for Adam and Eve, for Cain and Abel, and for their future offspring (that’s US!), God still made provisions for the joy and sorrow of His most cherished creation, mankind.
Yes, God desires a relationship with you. Just as relationships between husbands and wives or parents and teens are sometimes stressful, our relationship with God is stressed by sin in our lives. Reach out to God on a daily basis and tell Him that you love Him and that you desire a relationship with Him.
I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

Day 3 – December 5 – Wednesday

IMAGINE: A Creative God (Creation implies ownership)

A God Who is Personal

While he had Adam’s undivided attention, God give him some very specific instructions. God said, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the Knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die,” (Genesis 2:16, 17) God offered to Adam an opportunity to experience the full freedom that grows out of obedience.

One of Adam’s duties was to help Eve understand God’s instruction, therefore He held them both equally responsible for the sin that infected the human race when the couple ate of the forbidden fruit.

Even before God’s confrontation, Adam already knew he had sinned. He felt that inner awareness of wrong doing called guilt. He also realized the fear of exposure called shame. This powerful combination was given by God to each of us personally as an internal corrective. It could have brought Adam to repentance and confession. Instead Adam tried to cope by avoidance and denial. Adam found himself suddenly terrified of God’s approach because he knew it would be a personal confrontation. He hid in shame. Gently questioned, Adam excused his behavior and Eve followed Adam’s lead. The rest of us have done the same thing.

As long as we blame others and refuse to take personal responsibility for our wrong actions, we remain mired in sin. Guilt and shame rule our lives and cut us off from God’s redemptive healing. God invites us to own our sin and confess it to Him. When we do so, God is “faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…

Day 2 – December 4 – Tuesday

IMAGINE: A Creative God (Creation implies ownership)

A God Who Loves Beauty and Variety

Genesis 2; Psalm 24:1

“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it…” Ps 24:1

David speaks of our God as the Creator of all things. “…He founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.” Ps 24:2. Have you ever taken a brisk walk or a nice leisurely hike in Brown County State Park. It is a beautiful place to walk, and God’s creation is on full display. He surely loves beauty, and He is a God of great variety. During these walks I have seen lots of geese, ducks of different varieties, cranes, muskrats, turtles, squirrels, birds and fish and even an occasional deer. It is pretty hard to walk through that park and not be totally convinced that there is a divine Creator, who makes all that we see possible. Our God is one who loves beauty, and He has created hundreds of different types of birds, animals, and fish. He is a God of variety. He created it all.

God also created beautiful people to live in and care for the earth that He has given us. They come in all shapes and varieties. They have allowed themselves to become ugly as a result of sin. God has provided redemption for them in order that they may once again be clean and not ugly. The beauty of God’s people is not to be seen on the outside. He knows the heart. The beauty that He provides comes from the inner self, the unfailing beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. That is of great worth to God. As a great variety of people come to our services, many of them are experiencing the beauty that God alone can give. They are made clean, and they begin to mature as followers of Jesus Christ.

God has provided us with an incredible piece of property here in Southport. The purpose of this property is to bring hundreds people to Christ. That property really belongs to God. Everything is His. At this time in the history of our great church, God had made it possible for us to IMAGINE what we can do with this wonderful property for His glory.

Pause right now to thank God for the world that he He has created for us. Thank Him for this beautiful place where hundreds of people can be led to salvation in Christ. Thank Him for bringing each of us here for such a time as this.

I IMAGINE my response to God today will be…