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USA Southern Territorial Weekly Devotional

Growing Deeper Together

MAY 24, 2023

Is Christianity about Gaining or Giving Up?


Acts 26:28; John 12:25; 2nd Corinthians 10:3-5; 
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT (Written by Rick Raymer, Major)

Acts 26:28 (NKJV) records what King Herod Agrippa said when Paul talked to him about Jesus: 

Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You almost persuade me to become a Christian.’ 

Why was it almost for Agrippa? What kept him from believing? What keeps many people today from following Jesus? Some view becoming a Christian in terms of what they will have to surrender. I hear people say, “I don’t want to give up everything in life that I enjoy.” My response to them is that they don’t know what joy is until they have said yes to Jesus' invitation to follow Jesus. 

People who are “on the fence” typically think of what they would lose if they became a Christian; they never pause to think about what they would gain They never dream that they can be completely remade into someone who can’t wait to give up the very things they had hoped to hold onto. 

After we accept Jesus, we no longer want to do those things that displease God. Therefore, if we no longer want to do them, we’re not actually giving up anything. If our focus is on pleasing our Heavenly Father, we don’t lose a thing. Rather, we gain everything: a relationship with Jesus and eternal life. 

But even after we are saved, we still have our old nature. Temptations confront us every day, and we must reject the offers we get from the evil one. It’s a constant battle. That is, until we gain a new internal nature through the Holy Spirit. This new nature allows us to live in harmony with our Creator, which we could never do before. That’s holiness. It’s about complete surrender of our lives to the lordship of Christ. 

We need to shed more than just those things that we say we’re going to turn away from when we enroll as soldiers in The Salvation Army—things like smoking, drinking, drugs, stealing, lying, cursing, cheating, gambling, and pornography. We know those things are wrong. What I’m talking about is giving up anything in our lives that exalts itself above God. As we shed our old habits, we gain joy, peace, 
and inner satisfaction that we would not trade for our old ways multiplied by a thousand.

The most important thing for us to give up is ourselves. Or more specifically, our tendency to put our own needs and desires ahead of the needs and desires of
others. As Jesus said in

John 12:25 (NLT) 
‘Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.’ 

It’s a battle to keep our minds stayed on Jesus. Paul wrote about this to a group of Christians living in Corinth:

2 Corinthians 
10:3–5 (NLT) "We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans
do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy
every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ." 

Let’s take another look at verse 5 in the New King James Version:

2 Corinthians 10:5 "Casting down arguments, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ."

We must be prepared to surrender anything and everything in our lives that blocks our receiving His mercy and compassion. As we grow spiritually and continue to walk in the Lord, He shows us what we should surrender or give up for His honor and for His glory. 

Through the process, we discover that what we give up is no better than ashes, and what we gain is finer than gold. Here’s what the Life Application Commentary says about the passage in

2 Corinthians 10 
We, like Paul, are merely weak humans, but we don’t need to use human plans and methods to win our battles. God’s mighty weapons are available to us as we fight against Satan’s strongholds. The Christian must choose whose methods to use, God’s or the world’s. Paul assures us that God’s mighty weapons— prayer, faith, hope, love, God’s Word, the Holy Spirit—are powerful and effective!!! These weapons can break down the proud arguments against God and the walls that Satan builds to keep people from finding God. When dealing with pride or anything else that keeps people from a relationship with Christ, we may try to use our own methods. But nothing can break down these barriers like God’s weapons.

The Salvation Army’s Doctrine # 9 says:
We believe that continuance in a state of salvation
depends upon continued obedient faith in Christ.

Jesus’ desire is for us to be like Him. And being like Him is to be men and women who embody His attribute of holiness. Our desire should be to be obedient to Jesus by allowing Him to use us to win others. 

Are you holy?

If not, you can be by seeking the blessing of a clean heart and by walking in that blessing daily with Jesus. 
(Today's devotional comes from the book Living Holiness Out Loud in The 21st Century by Major Rick Raymer. This book can be purchased through Trade South.)


Our Father, we know that if we want to keep this blessing of a clean heart, we must walk in Your Spirit daily, and as we do and grow in our walk, we will gain far more than what we give up. Oh, Lord, please help us to give up the things that go against You, the written and living word of God. In Christ Jesus, we make our prayer, amen.


As you go through this next week, allow God to look inside your heart. Open it up to Him and give Him carte blanche, and if He, through His Holy Spirit, shows you things that you need to give up, we pray you do. 

‘Holiness is conformity to the nature of God. It is likeness to God, as He is revealed in Jesus.’ 
Samuel Logan Brengle, Commissioner
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Rick Raymer, Major
Territorial Spiritual Life Development Officer/THQ Chaplain
USA Southern Territory
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