Monday, May 6
Theme for the week:
Disciples in their Families

What is a servant disciple? A disciple is a follower – and in the Christian faith almost always means a follower of Jesus. A servant-disciple is a follower of Jesus in name and action. Jesus said that he came “not to be served but to serve” (Mark 10:45). As servant-disciples, regardless of the environment we find ourselves in, we look for opportunities to be of help and service to others. With that, it’s time to IMMERSE in Monday’s devotion.

Ephesians 5:21-33

Instructions for Christian Households

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

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Pondering Point

Take time to read Ephesians 5:21-33. The call to submit to one another in Ephesians 5:21 comes at the end of a section encouraging us to imitate Christ (who submits to God the Father). It then leads into a conversation about relationships between spouses, between parents and children, and among others. Submission itself occurs in relation to other people, but the motivation for submission comes from our relationship with Christ. Too often our behavior as spouse, parent, or boss is not worthy of such respect. But Jesus is always worthy of such respect. Our motivation is to be solely in the relationship we have with Jesus Christ our Lord – and not negated by poor behavior of others.

God calls us to be people of light and imitate Jesus, whose light has shined on us. We don't want to reflect the attitude of the world. We don't want to reflect the attitude of our boss or parents or spouse. We want to reflect the attitude of Christ Jesus in our marriages, in parenting, and in our lives outside the home as well.

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Prayer for the Day

Father God, grant me a spirit and willingness to submit to others out of reverence for Jesus Christ my Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, May 7
God’s Mission

John 13:1-17

Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet

1 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

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Pondering Point

Read about the servant-discipler Jesus in John 13:1-17. As servant-disciples of Jesus, the appeal to submit to others is not merely philosophical, it’s practical. Nothing is beneath your dignity; no one is beneath the reach of service. Being like Christ is being a servant to all
(including family)! How are you serving your family? Does reverence for Jesus impact how you relate to them?

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Prayer

Father God, let me learn from Jesus’ example to be willing to serve those around me, including my own family. Let me put that example in to practice daily for acquaintances, for strangers, for friends, and of course for my family. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Wednesday, May 8
Biblical Teachings on Prayer

Matthew 7:11

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
~ Jesus

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Pondering Point

What!?! I am considered evil? Yes, but that is not the main point here. Even the kindest most generous father, loving his children yet tainted with sin, pales in comparison to God’s Fatherly goodness. That “evil” father knows how to give good gifts – don’t we all as godly-yet-sinful parents? If that is true, obviously the Father who is ALL GOOD will also know how to answer our prayer requests in ways that are good!

There is further instruction on this topic in Hebrews 12:5-13. As our Father, God desires to have us sharing his holiness. Beyond that, ou can find the Apostle Peter teaching that we have everything we need to participate in that holiness of God (see 2 Peter 1:3-4). Your Father desires to bless you. Affirm that and agree with it out loud: My Father loves to give me good gifts when I ask Him.

We add our identity in Christ today, reminding ourselves that God does not withhold blessings from us in spite, but rather sees us as holy and righteous through Jesus. He wants to bless you!

• In Christ, I am holy through the washing with water and the Word, and like everyone else connected to Jesus, am without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

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Prayer

Father God, I do want to participate in your Divine nature, in your holiness. Thank for you for your gifts, for your promises and for your goodness that comes to me through Jesus Christ my Lord. May I honor you by the way I live my life, trust in your promises, and celebrate your goodness. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Thursday, May 9
Prayerfully Re-Center Around God

1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
~ Apostle Paul

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Pondering Point

Let the Apostle Paul’s grateful heart encourage you in your own life of prayer: What stands out in his prayer above?

Take note of the thankfulness, the partnerships, the faith-generated fruit, the love-inspired labor, the endurance and hope. Let’s prayerfully re-center around God using Paul’s approach to prayer.

Review the week

Who am I grateful for? Do they know that I appreciate them? Who are my partners in life (think marriage, work, exercise, faith)? Is God in the middle of these partnerships? Who currently inspires you to want to love and serve others?

Repent (if necessary)

Who have I overlooked or taken for granted -- counting family? What should I do about that? If you have left God out of or on the sidelines of key Partnerships in your life, repent of that as well.

Return (as necessary)

Thank God for the people that you initially remembered and also include those you previously overlooked or took for granted. Thank God specifically for your family. Thank Him for the opportunity to have partners and ask him to be central to all relationships you have. Submit even your partnerships to God.

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Prayer

Father God, raise up in me a genuine heart of thankfulness, awareness and appreciation for those around me, including my family and my partners in life. May I labor out of love for You and them, inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray, Amen.

Friday, May 10
Discipleship Point and Prayer

“To lead his spiritual movement Jesus chose twelve prideful souls, because it wasn't like there were other kinds from which to choose. He worked patiently for months to change them into humble disciples... Not everyone who serves is humble. But everyone who is humble will be a servant.”

p.84, The Prideful Soul’s Guide to Humility, Fontenot/Jones
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Humility Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank you for choosing me to be one of your servant-disciples, prideful soul and all. Out of reverence for you, teach me how to humbly submit myself as a servant to those in my world. I want to know you. I want to reflect you. I want to serve you. By your Holy Spirit teach me these things. In your name I pray. Amen.

Discipleship Point on Justice

Spending regular God-time with others, both Christian and non-Christians is a way in which we disciple others. Rather than just being discipled, this discipleship points out for us the teaching side. We want both. As you yield to the Holy Spirit directly (one-on-one in God’s Word, prayer, reflection, etc.) and indirectly (in small group, micro-groups, and worship), you will be transformed, becoming more like Jesus as you grow spiritually. And, to borrow a phrase from the tennis world, this improves your service game in discipling others.

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Discipleship Prayer

Father God, remind me to value time spent with other people, seeing it as a way to be discipled by you and a way for you to disciple others using me as your servant. Help me submit to the Holy Spirit for the sake of being transformed and helping others be transformed to be like Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.

Saturday, May 11
Scripture's Story for the Week

Joshua 24:1-27

The Covenant Renewed at Shechem

1 Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel, and they presented themselves before God.

2 Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods. 3 But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants. I gave him Isaac, 4 and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I assigned the hill country of Seir to Esau, but Jacob and his family went down to Egypt.

5 “‘Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I afflicted the Egyptians by what I did there, and I brought you out. 6 When I brought your people out of Egypt, you came to the sea, and the Egyptians pursued them with chariots and horsemen as far as the Red Sea.[b] 7 But they cried to the Lord for help, and he put darkness between you and the Egyptians; he brought the sea over them and covered them. You saw with your own eyes what I did to the Egyptians. Then you lived in the wilderness for a long time.

8 “‘I brought you to the land of the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I gave them into your hands. I destroyed them from before you, and you took possession of their land. 9 When Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab, prepared to fight against Israel, he sent for Balaam son of Beor to put a curse on you. 10 But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you again and again, and I delivered you out of his hand.

11 “‘Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The citizens of Jericho fought against you, as did also the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites, but I gave them into your hands. 12 I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove them out before you—also the two Amorite kings. You did not do it with your own sword and bow. 13 So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.’

14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods! 17 It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our parents up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. 18 And the Lord drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.”

19 Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. 20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.”

21 But the people said to Joshua, “No! We will serve the Lord.”

22 Then Joshua said, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord.”

“Yes, we are witnesses,” they replied.

23 “Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”

24 And the people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God and obey him.”

25 On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he reaffirmed for them decrees and laws. 26 And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the Lord.

27 “See!” he said to all the people. “This stone will be a witness against us. It has heard all the words the Lord has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God.”

As you read this part of the bible, you will find that this is the story from which comes the phrase on plaques often found hanging in Christian homes: As for me and my house we will serve the Lord. That commitment wasn’t a given for everyone that Joshua was addressing in the account. Learn this story from God’s Word and let Him ask you what it means to serve Him as Lord in your family. By the way, with it being Mother’s Day tomorrow, it’s a great day to be grateful if your family built their home around God. If your family did not do so, it’s a great time to forgive them and consider how to let God become central now.

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Prayer for the Day

Father God, whether I am a mother or father, daughter or son, brother or sister, aunt or uncle, cousin, niece or nephew, or even a venerable grandparent, let me teach my family about the love of Jesus through my servant-disciple’s mindset and activity. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Sunday, May 12
Call to Gather, Pray and Worship God

God Bless You

Revelation 2:10-11

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death. 

Today’s blessing comes with two things: (1) having ears to hear the message, and (2) exhibiting faithfulness, Faith comes through hearing (Romans 10:17).

Faithfulness could be called an obedience that comes through faith (Romans 1:5). Pray to hear and believe, the believe and act in faith.

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Prayer for the Day

Father God, thank you for mothers and children and for the joys of family life. Be with those who are grieving because they have no mother to hold; be close to those who are struggling because they have no children to embrace; be near to those who are sad because they are apart from those they wish to embrace. Bless especially those who have missed out on the joy of a mother who cherished them deeply. Let Your love somehow cover such tragic situations.

Let Your love be present in every home, and help your church to have eyes to see and ears to hear the needs of all who come. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

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