A Very Good Place to Start: Day One
Many years ago, I picked up a Bible for the first time. I was in my early twenties, newly married, and I had no faith background or church connection. Everything about the Christian faith was foreign to me. In my living room, I was drinking coffee while sitting on my couch all alone. I gazed out the window at the birds on the porch rail and wondered about God.
Who is God and what does Jesus have to do with it all? These were my questions to myself and to God. That day I opened the Bible and turned to John’s Gospel. It was a tiny speck of a memory from childhood and it was prodding me to start there.
It’s more than twenty years ago since that morning cup of coffee. God showed up that day in a spiritually profound way. It was the start of a journey with God where He taught me to listen and trust Him to lead. People often ask how I learned to hear God’s voice. It happened one day at a time. But I had to be willing to begin. I had to start somewhere.
I have been a pastor now for fifteen years. My deepest concern is that Christians know so much about God. But they do not truly know God. In this devotional, I hope you will come to know God and hear His voice. Jesus says, “I know my sheep and my sheep know me and they recognized my voice” (John 10).
If you are new to the faith, then this might seem like deep water. I believe it is shallow enough to wade in and deep enough to learn to swim. If you have been a Christian for a while, then this might be a challenging devotional. You will be challenged to let God search your heart. You will be invited to lean in closer to the heart of God. And this can be a tender, but frightening place. However, it is the sacred place in the center of God’s will. It is the place that transforms us in the core of our being.
There is great hunger for spiritual things. Even though it seems many are turning from God, there are more who are looking for faith. They are seeking to know God, but they do not know where to begin. There is a knowing that only comes from experience. Faith is that kind of knowing. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. And I believe this is a very good place to start.
Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am”?
The disciples knew what others were saying about Jesus. Jesus knew what others were saying about him. But Jesus wanted to know how much others’ opinions of him had influenced the disciples. So, Jesus probes deeper and asks, “Who do you say that I am”?
The first part of this devotional strives to help you answer this question. Be honest with yourself and God. You can begin today by journaling your answer below. Before you write anything, take a moment to sit and listen to your heart and mind. Answer the question as honestly and authentically as possible. It is my hope that you will watch this answer transform over the next forty days, but you will need to begin here.
Who do you say that I am? – Jesus
Spend some time writing out your answer in a personal journal or notebook, then read the passage below.
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[b] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[c] will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[d] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
 Matthew 16:13-20 NIV