DAY 18 – DEEPEN MY GENEROSITY

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Pastor Heiden Ratner

SCRIPTURE:
2 CORINTHIANS 8:1-3 ESV
1 “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord…
DEVOTIONAL:

A long, long time ago, several churches in the Macedonia Region (modern-day Greece) decided to go deeper in their generosity. They believed in making disciples, and they financially supported one of the greatest missionaries of all time – the Apostle Paul. Their example so impacted Paul that he chose to honor them publicly in his second letter to the church in Corinth. In the above verses there are three things that are noteworthy when it comes to deepening our generosity.

First: They Gave in Affliction. I find it inspiring and convicting that though these churches were experiencing great “affliction” and were facing “extreme poverty,” they didn’t allow their circumstances and lack of resources to keep them from being generous. They had a no-excuses mentality. They continued to be a blessing even when times were tough and we continue to learn from them to this day.

Second: They Gave Joyfully. Generosity is not just about giving but also about the attitude behind our giving. Solomon writes in Proverbs 16:2: “All the ways of a person are clean in his own sight, But the LORD examines the motives.” (Proverbs 16:2 NASB) Paul lets us know that it was not a selfish motive that drove the Macedonians, nor was it an agenda-driven motive; instead, it was a joyful motive inspiring their generosity.

Third: They Gave Beyond their Means. These churches could have made any excuse in the world not to be generous or to give sparingly at this time; however, that was not their pursuit. They decided to give beyond their means and support the church planting efforts of Paul in a big way. They had a Kingdom mentality that resulted in a more profound display of generosity. They chose not to stay on the surface with their giving but to deeper. May we learn from the joyful example of the Macedonians and begin to apply these elements to our own lives.

ACTION STEPS:

→ Pray about new and fresh ways you can be more generous this year. Ask the Lord to give you increased boldness, trust, and faith.

→ If you don’t tithe regularly, consider starting now.

→ Watch the sermon “Green Christmas” by Pastor Heiden Ratner on WALK Church’s YouTube Channel.

PRAYER:

Father, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ for each and every person reading this devotional. Lord, I pray that we would go deeper in our generosity this year and trust You to provide everything we need. Lord, increase our joy this year as we trust You in this precious area of our lives. I pray we would keep an eternal mindset as we give and that You would use us to make a difference in this world through our giving. In Jesus Name, Amen!

DAY 17 – DEEPEN MY FORGIVENESS

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Shane Gettle

SCRIPTURE:
EPHESIANS 4:32 ESV
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
DEVOTIONAL:

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesian Church, he instructs the believers to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgive like Christ. What a challenge! As I read this verse and reflect on this past year, I can’t help but ask myself, “Have I been as kind as I could’ve been to those I’ve interacted with?” and “Have I given those around me enough grace or compassion?” I recently read a devotional that said: “We often judge others by their actions, but we judge ourselves by our intentions.” What if we made a better effort this year to judge others by the same standards that we hold ourselves to and decided to give people the “benefit of the doubt”? Solomon writes in the book of Proverbs: “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11 ESV)

Too often, we hold on to past hurts and grudges and allow them to weigh us down. I’ve often heard the example that not forgiving someone is like holding a hot potato and expecting the other person to get burned. Let’s make this the year that we finally let go of the “hot potato” and choose to pick up God’s grace in our own lives so we can accept the bigger plan He has for us. How much happier would we be if we extended the forgiveness to those in our lives that Jesus has extended to us?

We all have at least one person in our lives that we have not spoken to in a while or potentially somebody we’ve yet to reconcile with or forgive. Make this the opportunity to practice Ephesians 4:32 and forgive the way Jesus does. This could be your moment to go deeper in forgiveness and see a past relationship healed. If Jesus can die on a cross and forgive our sins, how much more should we forgive those in our own lives who have sinned against us? Let’s go deeper!

ACTION STEPS:

→ Examine your life and identify someone who you may still hold resentment against and make the intentional decision to forgive them. Not just with your mouth but in your heart.

→ Reach out to someone you may have hurt in the past and offer an apology. A friend once told me, “All you can do is keep your side of the street clean. You are only responsible for your actions, not someone else’s reaction”.

PRAYER:

Lord, I thank You for the grace that You have provided to me through my faith in Christ. I thank You for the forgiveness You have lavished upon us and I pray that we would extend that same forgiveness to those in our lives. Help us to identify any relationship that needs healing and give me the strength to take a step toward that direction. Lord, help me to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving to those in my life. I pray this in Jesus Name. Amen!

DAY 16 – DEEPEN MY THIRST

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Vashawn Nash

SCRIPTURE:
PSALM 63:1 ESV
“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
DEVOTIONAL:

I live in a desert. And although my city isn’t the hottest in the world, Las Vegas is located near what’s considered the hottest location in the entire Western Hemisphere: California’s Death Valley. With an average temperature of 110 degrees during summertime, residents know that “dry and weary” is the norm. So, to survive here, Las Vegans need an abundant supply of dry and weary’s arch-enemy: water.

The truth is that the spiritual climate of this world is similar to Death Valley. Dry and Weary. We are in the midst of a drought that only offers things of the like, and in it, we’ve become frenzied consumers of the products that only mask our soul’s dehydration. In this Death Valley, the only One dispensing what we truly need is Jesus. He alone can quench the thirst of our needy souls and provide the spiritual nourishment we struggle to live without.

In John 4:13-14, Jesus ministered these words to the thirsty women at the well: “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Jesus not only has the endless flow of water that our souls need, but He desires to give it to us as well. So today, thank Him for being the thirst-quenching savior that He is and ask Him to take you deeper in your thirst for Him this year.

ACTION STEP:

→ Over the next five days, be intentional about responding correctly to the thirst of your soul. When you want to be filled, choose to seek Jesus through prayer, reading His Word, listening to worship music, etc. Bring your thirsts to Him.

PRAYER:

Lord, deepen my thirst for You. I pray that when I need to be filled up, I will run to You instead of other things like TV shows, games, or other entertainment. I pray that I wouldn’t dull my sense of neediness for You by being consumed with the failing supplements this world has to offer. You have all that I need: love, joy, affirmation, peace, and strength are all found in You and Your gospel. Remind me moment by moment that You are the only One who can satisfy my needs. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

DAY 15 – DEEPEN MY COMPASSION

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Pastor Heiden Ratner

SCRIPTURE:
MATTHEW 9:36 ESV
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
DEVOTIONAL:

Take a moment to imagine this setting. Crowds on every side, sick people crouching in, afflicted people desiring to be healed, religious people snarling, and the disciples overwhelmed and confused. Meanwhile, Jesus stands at the center gazing upon the multi-dysfunctional audience, feeling something deep within Him. What was He feeling, you might ask? One word: Compassion. As Jesus looked upon the crowds that day, He couldn’t help but feel a sense of compassion toward them. And this type of compassion – this Jesus compassion – is likely different from your definition of the word. The Greek word used here is Splanchnizomai. I know you want to say it out loud. So go ahead and give it a try. “Splanch – niz – omai”. This word, by definition, means to be moved in one’s bowels. It’s the picture of being so broken over a particular situation that it moves you down to your guts. This was what Jesus felt as He “saw the crowds… harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

If I’m being completely honest, I don’t know for certain that I’ve ever felt that level of compassion toward a specific individual or situation. But, hey, that’s why I want to go deeper this year. I don’t want to maintain surface-level compassion that leaves me feeling emotionless and inactive. I want my life, feelings, and emotions to be conformed to the person of Christ, producing a deeper sense of compassion in and through me.

Not much has changed in today’s context from what Jesus saw two thousand years ago – people are still harassed, helpless, and lost. I’m praying that this year the Lord would give me eyes to see people the way He does, and that my seeing would lead to feeling, and that my feeling would lead to doing. Lord, take us deeper into Christ-like compassion.

ACTION STEPS:

→ Meditate on the song: “Give Me Your Eyes” by Brandon Heath

→ Consider serving this month at a Homeless Outreach

→ Reach out to someone who is sick and check on them.

  • If you only know people who have recovered from being sick, reach out to one of them and check on how their recovery is going.
PRAYER:

Father, I come before You today in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. I’m asking for myself and the person reading this to experience a deeper sense of compassion. Lord, help us this year to feel “Splanchnizomai” compassion. Give us Your eyes to see what You see, and empower our hands and feet to do whatever You call us to do. Jesus, we ask You to deepen our heart for lost and broken people. Take us deeper in compassion. In Jesus name, Amen!