Monday: Authentic, according to Webster’s Dictionary means credible, genuine, or real. Being authentic requires opening up to scrutiny and judgment. Most people would prefer their lives be seen as perfect. But the genuine people are the ones with whom we want to be closest. Those are the ones who are the least threatening and real. What you see with them is what you get, relatable and trustworthy, imperfections and all! I don’t know about you, but I want to be that person. I want to be easily befriended, an approachable person who immediately puts others at ease. Jesus was that guy. He was genuine, a person many wanted to get to know and get near, like His friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. He was different from us in that He was perfect. There was no sin in Him. As we seek Him out for answers through prayer, He is most approachable. If we aspire to be authentic, we must ask the Holy Spirit to give us the courage and wisdom to be simply more like Jesus!
Read: James 1:5; Luke 10:38-42; John 11:33-36
Tuesday: I ponder the question “What’s Your Deal?” Introspectively, my thoughts filter through my years and experiences. My story is probably not uncommon to that of the average person. Oh I’ve experienced sudden loss and grief over loved ones, watched my grandma become a shell of her true self as Alzheimer’s ate away at her memory, and seen much sadness in my years as a Critical Care nurse. Crohn’s Disease, infertility, and other troubles have plagued me along the way. But each aided in the development of perseverance and Christ-like character. Amid a few of these scenarios, tragedy seemed to dominate, but through them God proved Himself faithful. On the other side of these circumstances, I’m more empathetic. So, what’s your deal? What experiences has God used in your life to refine your character, making you more empathetic to others and their life struggles? Consider how transparently sharing your deal might aid in someone’s healing.
Read: James 1:2-4; John16:33; Isaiah 38:16-17
Wednesday: Being authentic with myself, I again ask, “What’s my deal?” The haunting reply echoes through the dark closets of my soul. Confused by a lifetime of what seemed like legalism, hypocrisy, and guilt-induced acts of service, I gradually became hardened. The enemy used that among other lies to set me up for compromise. In my early thirties and for the first time in my life, I made the conscious but clouded decision to rebel against church, God, or anything of the like. The result resembled being caught in a gripping and suffocating web. Once I resolved to get out, the grip of the web clinched tighter. There’s nothing as humbling as crawling, face plastered to the ground, back to God for forgiveness. I had known Jesus most of my life, but today His love for me is real. I understand that churchy word redeemed firsthand. My poor choices and God’s forgiveness have given me new eyes of understanding and love. His redeeming love wooed me back. His forgiveness erased my sins and set me free. He will do the same for you. Just ask Him with a repentant heart.
Read: Isaiah 1:18; 53:3-6; Luke 13:5; 15:10
Thursday: New Testament gospel accounts are filled with stories of ordinary, sinful people with physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. The commonality among them is their human depravity and need for a Savior, a Healer. Among them was the centurion, the sinful woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, and the bleeding woman. Each needed Jesus’ healing touch. Once they laid down their pride and admitted they had a problem, each came face-to-face with the Healer. Transparently, they allowed Him and others to see them. Their faith saved them. He healed and sent them away in peace. Although He sees and knows all things, is there an area of sin or sickness in your life that you need to face head-on and allow Him to see? Do you need to be honest with yourself and God? You won’t surprise Him with your story. Why not let Him surprise you with all that He has to offer: peace, forgiveness, and healing?
Read: Luke 7:1-10, 36-50; Mark 5:25-34
Friday: In the words of my sweet friend Carole, “Jesus is the real deal. He’s the deal of a lifetime!” Cheerfully and truthfully spoken, she’s so right. He is the deal! He’s the deal maker and breaker! He made the deal on the cross to break our deal with sin. Without Him we’re left hopeless trying to clean up, heal up, or make-up on our own. He sheds light and reveals truth. He even sends special people our way to help carry the burden and in some cases provide accountability. Life Group, Celebrate Recovery, and serving teams are ideal places to meet some of those people. If we allow Him to take over and be the Leader of our life, Jesus will manage our deal for us. He will turn ashes into beauty and mourning into joy. He often uses the stories of ordinary people like us to bring Himself glory. We just have to be willing to share. Let’s make a deal to let Jesus be the deal of our lives!
Read: Isaiah 61:1-3, 7; 40:25-31; Philippians 2:1-11; 1 John 1:8-9
Devotions by Rivera Douthit
Verse of the Week: “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” Isaiah 43:25 (NIV)