Priorities in Balance is Your Best Investment

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
MATTHEW 19:21–22

In a worship service in Guinea, a prayer was offered to the Lord that I will never forget. A leader in this Guinean local church stood and prayed for those of us visiting, “O Lord, I pray that my brothers and sisters in Christ and the Church in Canada would be freed from their dependence on material things so that they would experience the presence and provisions of Jesus in more profound ways!” Whether it was the earnestness in his tone or the simplicity of the mud and grass building in which we were meeting, the experienced stirred my soul.

Matthew 19:16–30 is not about getting rid of our material wealth, but about one’s complete devotion to following Jesus and holding nothing more important than that. I have to ask myself, “Is my commitment to living for Jesus more important than my job or pursuit of income; is it a higher priority than my family and my home full of possessions that fulfil not just my needs but my wants?” Jesus’ encounter with the rich young man reminds us that when he calls us to follow him, we must be willing to give up everything in order to totally devote ourselves.

The message is not that wealth is bad, but that we need to put Jesus and his priorities first and foremost in our life. Our possessions must always be secondary, held as something that can be useful to serve others. The rewards for living completely committed to Jesus and his priorities will be worth it not only in this life, but also for eternity.

May the prayer of our Guinean brother be realized as we loosely hold onto our material possessions and live each day committed to following Jesus and serving others with the resources with which he has blessed us!


1. What behaviours in my life might indicate that material wealth, comforts of this life or my reputation have a higher priority than my devotion to Jesus and his call on my life?
2. Ask Jesus to reveal how you can be more intentional about being generous with your resources and sensitive to the needs of others.

Joanne Beach serves the C&MA in Canada as the Director of Alliance Justice and Compassion.

Are You Right or Left-Handed?

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
JOHN 1:14

As a left-handed person in a dominantly right-handed world, I’ve spent some time imagining how life might be different if I were other-handed. Not having the ability to use the correct hand for a certain task can be comical at times, but also frustrating or even dangerous. Fumbling with a carrot peeler (yes, they’re designed for right-handed people) is no big deal, but contorting oneself over a skill saw—yes, also for right-handers—look out.

John 1:14 reveals that Jesus is ambidextrous—not physically of course, but spiritually. He is described as being full of grace and truth. Jesus employed deft skill applying grace in one hand and truth with the other. For most of my life, I thought grace and truth were opposites. I supposed that if I applied one, it needed to be at the expense of the other, but in Jesus, both virtues are indivisibly united. In love, our Saviour meted out truth gracefully and grace truthfully.

As Christ-followers, we too are called to be people of both grace and truth, but we each have a natural tendency to emphasize one virtue over the other. Carried to extremes, truth without grace is harsh and ugly. Grace without truth is equally cruel because it doesn’t allow honest recognition of our brokenness and need to encounter the real power of the Gospel.

What about you? How evenly do you apply the right- and left-handed qualities of grace and truth?

Lord, in your mercy, show us how to apply both qualities to ourselves and others for your honour and glory.

1. Which of the two qualities is currently less evident in my speech and conduct? What quality can I practise in my walk during this season of growth?
2. Spend some time considering Jesus’ spiritual dexterity today (maybe try a few tasks with your non-dominant hand!) and thank him for applying both grace and truth so expertly in your own life.

Phil Vanderveen is serving as Associate and Worship Pastor of Peace Portal Alliance Church in South Surrey, BC.

Image: “DrawingHands”. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –

The King’s Apprentices

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
MARK 1:17

The Gospel of Mark begins in a hurry. Jesus gets baptized, starts preaching the “Kingdom come” and immediately calls his followers whom the Bible refers to as disciples.

Disciple is a familiar word that we often don’t stop to think about. With familiarity, we miss its genius. The original Greek word, Mathetes, literally meant, “a student, learner or apprentice.” This is the genius. These 12 followers weren’t just an ancient posse; they were his students, his apprentices. Like young residences at the side of a master surgeon or like apprentice electricians carefully watching a master, these 12 had become students of Master Jesus. Everything about their daily lives were focused around him. They were, to borrow the expression, Christ-centred.

What was it that they were learning? They were learning how to live as citizens of God’s Kingdom. They were listening to his Kingdom teaching and storytelling; they were carefully observing how he acted, prayed and healed; they were watching how and with whom he socialized. Through it all, they were learning how to live, act and walk as citizens of the King, according to his Kingdom ways.

Now, here’s the remarkable thing. This term disciple is not reserved for just those original 12. If you are a follower of Jesus, you too are a disciple, an apprentice, a student of the Master, one whose life is centred around him, carefully learning from him the ways of the Kingdom.

Doesn’t that change everything?

1. Have I ever considered that the 12 disciples were actually apprentices of Jesus, seeking to learn from him how to live according to his Kingdom?
2. Have I every viewed myself as a student/apprentice of Jesus? What if a “Christ-centred” life was about learning to live the way Master Jesus demonstrated? What would that mean for me?

Andy Lambkin is the husband of Jolie and the father of four. He pastors and works with the Canadian Pacific District.

Image: Pulpit (1736-1741) by Theodoor Verhaegen in Sint-Janskerk in Mechelen, Belgium. Christ, represented as the Good Shepherd, stands underneath the pulpit. The three men represent the three ages of man: everyone no matter their age should follow Jesus. © Ad Meskens / Wikimedia Commons

Missional Love

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son…God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
JOHN 3:16–17 (MSG)

While many Christians have professed belief in God, can we authentically say that we believe and obey what he says?

Christ’s commissioning in Matthew 28:19–20 has motivated Christians to embark on the mission for God throughout the ages, yet mankind’s mindset sometimes appears to echo that first human deliberation over the word of God in the Garden of Eden. The response of Adam and Eve to Satan’s question, “Did God really say…?” has sadly resonated throughout history, corrupting humankind’s relationship with God, and with one another, as we disobediently turn away from a missional love for the world (Gen. 3:1).

Even now, it’s as if Satan is still asking the question, “Did God really say… ?” but with a new spin: “Did God really say he loves the world? Really? What about those who live a lifestyle or hold religious beliefs that are extremely different from yours?” Depending on our response, Satan may in fact be deceitfully leading us into contrary disobedience to God’s word.

Scripture teaches us that God’s mission goes beyond human reasoning. It begins with enemy love (Rom. 5:8, Matt. 5:44) and a desire to reveal Christ to the whole world so that all would believe and live (John 3:16). It is through one’s belief and obedience that glory is given to God as we embrace his missional love for “the world” and reveal Christ as Lord and reconciling Saviour to all.


1. Has Satan tempted me with “Did God really say… ?” and deceived me into ignoring what God has said? Is there any disregard for God’s Word that has caused me to turn away from his missional love for the world?
2. In what ways can I guard against the temptation of Satan’s questioning so I can genuinely believe and obey what God has said?

Serena Richardson works at the C&MA’s national ministry centre as the Administrator of Alliance Justice and Compassion and lives in Brampton, ON with her daughter, Lauren.

Declaring Truth

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

On the corner of my street in Niamey, Niger, sits a little structure where people gather five times a day to recite their prayers. It’s a mini mosque with a maxi voice! Five times a day, the Arabic call to prayer blares over a loudspeaker mounted outside the building. It echoes throughout the neighbourhood at top volume with accompanying distortion and squealing feedback. Many people on the street have asked the imam to lower the volume, but he refuses.

The speaker is about twenty feet from my bedroom window, which means that when my neighbour yells into the microphone every morning at 5 o’clock, I am instantly pulled from sleep. While I never appreciate it, some days it bothers me more than others. It feels like the enemy is taunting my soul, “We have this place under control. What difference do you think you’re going to make? You don’t stand a chance!”

My counter-attack comes from the Word of God. Every morning, while my neighbour calls people to that which cannot save, I call my attention to the only One who can. I quietly recite some of my favourite Scriptures that draw me to fix my eyes on Jesus, who reminds me why I live in this country and assures me of his eventual victory.

While my neighbour chants that Mohammed is God’s prophet, I recite the truth that, “…there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Jesus Christ, who gave himself as a ransom for all people…” (1 Tim. 2:5–6); “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Then I fall back to sleep.

1. Do I really believe that the Bible’s declarations about Jesus are true? How does my life reflect that?
2. Have I believed the taunts of the enemy when he tells me that my work for the Lord is futile? In what circumstances? What can I do to regain hope?

Lisa Rohrick is a C&MA International Worker. She works with the Fulani people doing community development and church planting in Niger, one of the world’s poorest countries.

“Niamey night”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

The Cliff

…If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders… ?

How would you like to step off a cliff with me today?

“Are you sure that’s what you’d like to do, Lord? We have other options. We could have devotions together. We could pray with some buddies. We could tell a few strangers about you.”

Yes, we could. I just like blessing you. Let’s go to the cliff.

The cliff! You know, “cliff” and “blessing” don’t seem to belong in the same sentence. “Cliff” and “danger” work for me. I’ve got some friends who say, ‘‘Cliff” and “stupid” are a pair. I know you like this kind of stuff, but realize that I don’t have the luxury of seeing beyond the cliff.

I know. Why do you think I want to take you there? What do you think I want you to see?

“Well, for one thing, it’s an invitation to the impossible. I guess that’s what I see. That’s also my point of resistance.”

I don’t need to take you to the cliff for you to know it’s impossible. You know that now. What is it about going there, being there, actually stepping off the edge? What do you think I want you to see?

“My face on the canyon bottom?”

Nice one. That’s pretty good. Now be serious.

“To be honest, Lord, every time we go to the cliff, I ask you the same thing: Why are we doing this? You never tell me.”

That’s true, and you’ve survived every time. What did you see in each of those times?

“Honestly? I don’t know. My eyes were closed. I really hate heights.”

Fair enough. What did you sense?

“You. I sensed you. You were with me. I could feel you holding me up.”

Why do you think I want to take you to the cliff?

1. Think of the contradictions you experience—hardships that result in blessings, blessings that turn out to be curses, events where the outcome surprises you. Write them down. What do you think God wants you to see?
2. Reflect on your perception of God through the process. How has it shaped your belief about him today?

David Collins was raised in Vietnam as a son of missionaries. Based on lessons learned as a pastor, missionary, educator, international development worker and senior executive, he founded Paradigm Ministries in 2007. Discover more at

Image: by Abu Shawka (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Celebration Sunday

Sundays are not counted among the forty days of Lent because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter” – a celebration of Jesus’ victory over sin and death.

Celebrate what God has been doing in your life through these devotionals with thousands of others on this journey.

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