Pastor Joynt's Devotionals

How Should I Pray, Week 2, Day 5

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ROMANS 8:33-35 | MATTHEW 7:13-23

Judging, or blaming, is not the same as discernment or evaluation. The tennis coach who corrects my weak backhand is not condemning me! The doctor who wants to improve my diet and nutrition is not blaming me. I expect these professions to help me by identifying wrongs and insufficiencies.

However, it is difficult to identify, with peers and family, their struggles without seeming to condemn them as people. Parents and anyone in authority are familiar with this. Particularly in a culture where disapproval of someone’s behavior is automatically seen as rejection. Any criticism today is seen as a violation of individual sovereignty and the unjust imposition of your own ideas on someone else. This is where we must draw on the special agape of God and remember “There is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). The way we express the distinctions and evaluations we must make is conditioned by our sense of need for God’s grace made real in him and our conviction that his Kingdom is open to everyone. The second half of Matthew 7 concerns right judgement, covering false prophets, effective ministries, and genuine disciples.

Prayer

Gracious God, Help me to communicate your concern and love for others even when I am called to discipline or correct them. Grant me humility in those moments. Help me distinguish right from wrong, good from evil. I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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How Should I Pray, Week 2, Day 4

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LUKE 19:29-54

Jesus never condemns anyone in his three years of ministry, except for the spiritual leaders of Israel. We have these criticisms in Matthew 23 and Luke 19:29-54. This is remarkable! He does not condemn the hometown crowd in Nazareth, even when they become a lynch mob. He does not condemn Pilate at the trial, the disciples when they are obtuse or overambitious, or even John the Baptist, his forerunner, when John questions his ministry. John 3:16, the Bible’s most famous verse, is followed by John 3:17: “Jesus came into the world not to condemn the world but to save it!” Condemnation cannot open someone’s heart, win someone’s trust, or change someone’s mind. Jesus’ Kingdom works differently—overcoming evil with good.

Prayer

Gracious God, Help me to overcome evil with good. Hold back the words of condemnation that spring forth when I am injured, or threatened, or criticized. Be gracious to spiritual leaders whom Jesus evaluates with special seriousness. I ask in the name of him who did not condemn others. Amen.

 

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