Coffee and Wine

“Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.” (1 Cor. 8:13)

When my father was pastoring several years ago, there was a woman who wanted to become a member in the church.  However, she disagreed with the fact that our denomination encouraged abstinence from alcohol.  “Why can’t I have a little sip of wine every now and then? Lots of Christians drink coffee, and that has caffeine in it.  What’s the difference?”

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My father thoughtfully replied.  “Alcohol has caused so much more societal damage than caffeine.  But so you know how important I believe this to be, I will never knowingly drink anything with caffeine again, if you will decide to never drink alcohol again.”

Although the woman has not lived up to her end of the bargain, my dad has only drunk decaffeinated coffee since that conversation.

It’s been 13 years.

Do you care so much about your testimony that you would be willing to give up something you love if it would help someone else in their Christian walk?

*This mini-devotional was written for the app of Mesoamerica Region Nazarene Youth International (NYI). We encourage you to download and use that app, through which short devotional thoughts like this (written by a variety of leaders) will be shared daily.

Stumbling Block

“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” (1 Cor. 8:9)

As a new youth pastor, I invited one of the sophomores in the youth group to grab some ice cream after school.  As he climbed into my car and I turned the key, the radio blasted out the words of a popular rock song.  A song everyone knew.  A song I liked.  But not a song with a…ahem…biblical message.

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Can Christians only listen to hymns all day long? Nah.  Was it a sin to listen to a secular song on the radio? Probably not.

But the way he looked at me I knew it could cause him to justify his own questionable music selections.  His Christian walk was affected even if my eternity wasn’t.

“Sorry,” I said, turning off the radio.  “Neither of us should be listening to that.  It won’t happen again.”

*This mini-devotional was written for the app of Mesoamerica Region Nazarene Youth International (NYI). We encourage you to download and use that app, through which short devotional thoughts like this (written by a variety of leaders) will be shared daily.

Loving, Knowing, and Being Known

“The man who loves God is known by God.” (1 Cor. 8:3)

On my wedding day, I was head-over-heels enamored with my wife. I thought I could never be more in love.

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However, eighteen years later the love is even deeper.  We’ve shared many tears and countless belly-splitting times of laughter.  Just one look can speak more than a 1,000-word soliloquy.  We still surprise ourselves from time to time, but more often, we are able to express what the other is thinking or feeling better than they can.

This type of love comes out of knowing each other, faults and failures included. Our whispered doubts and shouted struggles have found safety in the trust built between us.

You see, loving is vitally connected to knowing.  The more I know Emily, the more I adore her.  But it is also true that the more I am known by her, the more my love grows.

What is more powerful: to know God or to be known by God? Both are astonishingly beautiful!  And both result in loving Him more and more each day.

*This mini-devotional was written for the app of Mesoamerica Region Nazarene Youth International (NYI). We encourage you to download and use that app, through which short devotional thoughts like this (written by a variety of leaders) will be shared daily.

The More You Know

“The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.” (1 Cor. 8:2)

In college, I was given a topic for a research paper.  I spent a good part of the semester reading, investigating, checking sources, and taking notes.  Every article cited another 20 journals and papers.  When I finally sat down to write the paper, I had so much new knowledge, but I was also convinced of something else: I was nowhere near understanding this subject completely!

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Has that happened to you? Have you ever had a moment where you read or researched a topic extensively, only to find that all the knowledge you had newly acquired was only .01% of the vast information on that subject?

“The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” – Aristotle

In this world of bravado and braggadocio, both Aristotle and Paul were onto something.

*This mini-devotional was written for the app of Mesoamerica Region Nazarene Youth International (NYI). We encourage you to download and use that app, through which short devotional thoughts like this (written by a variety of leaders) will be shared daily.

The Famous Know-it-All

“We know that we all possess knowledge.  Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Cor. 8:1)

Have you ever met a know-it-all? He (or she) justifiably has a lot of information in his brain, and he wants to let the world know every bit of it.  You’ll know when you’ve met one if they cut off your story or exciting piece of news with a “Well, of course, but did you also hear that…”

There’s no better way to bring a conversation down than with a know-it-all.

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Through social media today we all seem to want the world to know our thoughts and opinions.  We work hard to graduate and get a diploma that verifies that we possess the expertise necessary in a certain area.  Knowledge is vital, and we should strive for more knowledge every day.  However, if all that knowledge is used to bring attention to ourselves or –even worse– to disrespect someone, we have missed the boat.  Knowledge very often puffs us up.  But love? Love builds both you and others up.

*This mini-devotional was written for the app of Mesoamerica Region Nazarene Youth International (NYI). We encourage you to download and use that app, through which short devotional thoughts like this (written by a variety of leaders) will be shared daily.

Investing Time

“Teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

Time is a precious resource, and there often doesn’t seem to be enough of it. But the truth is, how you invest the minutes and hours you’ve been given demonstrates what’s most important to you.

For instance, consider: Are you distracted by needless pursuits – diversions that have no eternal value – when the Lord is calling you to His higher purposes? Are you choosing entertainment over knowing God through His Word and prayer? Do you spend hours pondering your fears rather than thanking Him for all He’s done and resting in Him? Do you spend more time complaining about others than ministering to them?

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The time you have is indeed limited. The Lord calls you to invest your time in pursuits that are eternally worthwhile such as seeking Him and blessing others. So, ask Him, “Lord, how can I spend my life in a manner that pleases You?” He will show you how to employ your time wisely if you’ll listen to Him and respond to Him in obedience. Give Him your time daily.

*This mini-devotional was written for the app of Mesoamerica Region Nazarene Youth International (NYI). We encourage you to download and use that app, through which short devotional thoughts like this (written by a variety of leaders) will be shared daily.

Absolutely Nothing

“I am convinced that NOTHING can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love” (Romans 8:38 NLT).

There may be something on your mind – a sin, a bad decision, someone’s rejection, or a particular trial – that makes you feel as if the Father does not or could not love you. However, once you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, NOTHING can separate you from His love. Not people. Not circumstances. Not angels, nor demons, nor the enemy’s entire army. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING my friends.

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Psalm 34:18 is clear, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” So when you feel at your most unworthy or defeated is when the Father is closest, tenderly bidding you to return to Him.

The most dangerous move you can make is to resist His love. So seek His face today. Confess your failings. Ask Him to teach you. Thank Him for inviting you back. Then praise His holy name and love Him in return with all your heart. In His presence enjoy His love always.

*This mini-devotional was written for the app of Mesoamerica Region Nazarene Youth International (NYI). We encourage you to download and use that app, through which short devotional thoughts like this (written by a variety of leaders) will be shared daily.