Weeping
In 1 Samuel 30:1-4 we read,
Now it happened, when David and his men came to Ziklag, on the third day, that the Ama...
Neither Adam nor Eve took personal responsibility. It was somebody else's fault.
If the problems you are experiencing toda...
life. In other words, it doesn't deal with how someone becomes a Christian, but rather how a
Christian should maintain a l...
Life is a struggle. Anybody will tell you that. No matter where we end up, we will wrestle with
problems, be they financia...
The world is full of people with needs. There is always someone, somewhere, who needs a word of
encouragement. Someone nee...
closets to organize the extra items sitting around your house and label things so you will know
what's where.
While this m...
the good of being so zealous? Be quiet like the rest; sleep as do others, and let your lamp go out as
the other virgins do...
If you have something in your past, even though it was not your fault, that is haunting you today, do
what Joshua did: lay...
The LORD is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my
life- of whom shall I be afraid...
Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.
(1 Chronicles 22:13).
Even when things aren't...
acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Be friendly and approachable. Christ adored childr...
If you keep doing what you've always done, you'll keep getting what you've always gotten.
(Anonymous)
Fight the good fight...
appreciate God through His creation today.
Happiness is a state of being and it comes naturally on its own. It doesn’t nee...
the amount of faith but the focus of the faith.
Earlier in Matthew 17 the disciples had tried to cast out a demon without ...
Ministry to the Gentiles
Matthew 15:29–39
Matthew Henry writes: “Forgetting former experiences leaves us under present dou...
with someone means you are working with them as a team.
Sometimes believers read these verses and they are tempted to thin...
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is
being patient for your sak...
decision to do this will empower you and give you strength. The minute you do this, feelings of
hope will begin and you wi...
To gain, you must give up.
If someone takes your jacket, give them your shoes too.
When we are weak, then we are strong.
T...
require faith. For me this means accepting my weaknesses rather than boasting in my strengths.
Faith is like walking over ...
Food for Thought
Years ago, I was dating a young woman named Reneé whom I loved very much. The only problem
was that she w...
The supreme happiness of life is the conviction of being loved for yourself, or, more correctly,
being loved in spite of y...
Power Verses:
Psalm 16:5-6, "LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The
boundary lines have fa...
Today, God's message for you is that every day is important. Learn from the past and plan for the
future, but keep your fo...
is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the
winds blew and beat agai...
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33
Have you ever stopped to think ...
totally like God because he is our supreme creator. But we do have the ability to reflect his
character in our love, patie...
much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit.
In my study at home I have a small, yellowed piece of paper framed in gl...
-Ephesians 6:7
"Say to those with fearful hearts, 'Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to
destroy your enem...
Regarding your boss, she/he has a job to do, regardless of your friendly relationship with her/him.
That means you must pe...
something important, but they don't know what that is, and they're frustrated and discouraged.
Perhaps that even describes...
Christian Living
The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord– Isaiah 29:19
Meekness is not a momentary decision, bu...
isn't based on your strength or commitment, but on Him. Praise Him that He will never violate that
commitment nor fail in ...
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
My journal 15odt
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My journal 15odt

  1. 1. Weeping In 1 Samuel 30:1-4 we read, Now it happened, when David and his men came to Ziklag, on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the South and Ziklag, attacked Ziklag and burned it with fire, and had taken captive the women and those who were there, from small to great; they did not kill anyone, but carried them away and went their way. So David and his men came to the city, and there it was, burned with fire; and their wives, their sons, and their daughters had been taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep. David experienced the sudden loss of his family and it tore his heart out. Notice that David and his men lifted up their voices and wept until they had no more power to weep. Feeling sorrow and anguish and expressing it is not wrong. In fact, it is normal, especially when you have experienced a sudden and personal loss. Perhaps, like David, you have lost family members. Or maybe you have wayward children. They were brought up in the way of the Lord, but they are living a lifestyle that is diametrically opposed to the ways of God right now, and your heart is broken when you think about it. Maybe you have experienced some other loss in your life, something of value, something that is important to you, something that has meaning to you. If so, it is okay to grieve! God has wired us to be emotional beings. We are not robots. It is right for loss to affect us on a personal, emotional level. As the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:4, there is a time to weep. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5). Sorrow has its place and its time, but there is also a time for it to end and to be replaced with something else. Taking Responsibility In the devotional yesterday, we saw how it is okay when we experience loss to weep and to grieve. I want to point you to verse 6 of that same passage to learn another important lesson related to experiencing loss. 1 Samuel 30:6 says, Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him. David was not only grieving for the loss of his own family, but he was now being blamed for the whole thing. In fact, they were blaming him to the point that they wanted to take his life. When you experience troubles, do not be someone who always wants to blame others. I know that it is human nature to want to point the finger and to lash out at somebody else when we are in trouble or when we have experienced loss. In fact, I think blaming others is just part of our fallen fleshly DNA. Just take a look at what Adam and Eve did in the garden when they messed up. When God turned up and asked what happened, Adam said, "Well, it's the woman that You gave me. She gave me from the tree, and I ate." And when God asked Eve what happened, she replied, "Well, it was the serpent. It was the snake." So Adam blamed his wife, and blamed God who gave him his wife, and Eve blamed the snake.
  2. 2. Neither Adam nor Eve took personal responsibility. It was somebody else's fault. If the problems you are experiencing today are your fault, take responsibility, and do not blame others. Recognize Your Vulnerability 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands [who feels sure that he has a steadfast mind and is standing firm], take heed lest he fall [into sin]. 13 For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not [a]adjusted and [b]adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to [c]a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently. Some Christians see a fellow believer fall into sin but fail to acknowledge that they, too, could stumble. That's dangerous. Satan has them right where he wants them: deceived by a false sense of confidence. Three enemies are constantly at work trying to bring us down: the Devil, his world system, and our own treacherous flesh. Even though believers have a righteous standing before God, we must each, like Paul, acknowledge an internal problem: "sin which dwells in me" (Rom. 7:20). Satan takes full advantage of this weakness, luring us with fleshly and worldly temptations. He stokes our pride so we'll be blinded to our own vulnerability to stumbling. Christians need to be continually on guard. Since ignorance--of the nature of sin, the strategies of the Enemy, and our own areas of weakness--sets us up for failure, we cannot afford to be careless in our thinking. Anytime you find yourself excusing, redefining, or rationalizing sin, you've lost your sensitivity to the Lord. God's Word must always fill our minds and direct our steps. If you've drifted from the Lord, turn back to Him by acknowledging your sin and accepting full responsibility for it. Repentance simply means changing your mind and going in a different direction--toward God instead of away from Him. The next step is harder. Respond with gratitude for the Lord's chastisement. Every time believers fall into sin, God lovingly works to bring them back into a fellowship with Him. His discipline may be painful, but it's always good because it brings us to our senses and reconnects us with our Father. God’s Standard of Living Psalm 15:1–5 Benjamin Franklin once called David's Psalm 15 the "Gentleman's Psalm." To him, it represented the standard of life after which a gentleman should pattern his walk. As fine a description as that may be, David's song goes even deeper than that—it is indeed the "Christian's Psalm." It sets forth not so much the way a person finds the Lord as the way we are to live after the Lord has entered our
  3. 3. life. In other words, it doesn't deal with how someone becomes a Christian, but rather how a Christian should maintain a life of integrity. It sets forth many of the moral and ethical characteristics God desires in His children's day-to-day lifestyle, both in public and in private. Like many of David's songs, we cannot determine from the lyrics what prompted him to write. Perhaps that's intentional. By leaving out his own personal details, he allows us to write in our own. His words then become our words as we lament the daily grind of weakened integrity. Aside from David's specific concerns, and ours, there is a broader biblical context that gives the psalm real significance. Let me explain. The moment a believing sinner gives his heart to Jesus Christ, he is declared to be the recipient of numerous spiritual blessings. These make up our eternal inheritance, which never changes. We become a child of God (John 1:12), adopted into His family forever (Romans 8:14–17), sealed and secure (Ephesians 1:13), delivered from darkness into God's love (Colossians 1:13), a member of a priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), and on and on! These things never change, regardless of our walk. They become our permanent inheritance. In that way, they represent our unchanged eternal position in God's eyes. But something else is also true: We have temporal fellowship with our Lord. From salvation onward, the child of God has the privilege of living under the control of the Holy Spirit. The flip side of that arrangement introduces a possibility: he may, instead, choose to sin and walk in the energy of his own flesh, and thus break this temporal fellowship that is ours to claim. When he or she does, the individual chooses to reject God's power and blessing, and then moves immediately out of the realm of fellowship into the realm of divine discipline. Let me hasten to add that his tragic loss of temporal fellowship need not be extended. If the believer will confess his sins (1 John 1:9) and begin to walk in dependence upon the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 5:18), temporal fellowship will immediately be restored. Let me put this another way, just to be clear. If you have trusted in Christ, your eternal destiny is secure, despite your personal failures. However, you can be cut off from the benefits of fellowship in this life. You can excuse yourself from God's banquet table of fellowship and choose to eat the husks of sin. And you will reap the consequences of your choices while in this life: malnourishment, loneliness, sorrow, regrets . . . How does all this tie in with Psalm 15? Simply that this divine song has to do with our walking in the realm of temporal fellowship. In fact, it mentions some of the things we should be doing within the framework of that fellowship. It deals with those works of righteousness that are prompted by the Holy Spirit while we are walking in dependence upon our God. When these things begin to fade from our lives, our integrity is inevitably weakened—and ultimately, our testimony is hurt. “And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee” (Matthew 9:2). Forgiveness releases the love of God in people’s lives andsets the captives free. If there is someone you need to forgive, do so today.Not only will it release you from the burden of the offense, it will release them too. The Ultimate Release "Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord; and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee." — Augustine
  4. 4. Life is a struggle. Anybody will tell you that. No matter where we end up, we will wrestle with problems, be they financial, emotional, physical, or a host of other difficulties. As many as there are, so are there more tactics to deal with them. Fathers of earth will have millions of different solutions, be it to let them sort out themselves or to slam your nose to the grindstone until there's nothing left. Unlike either of those stances, our heavenly Father tells us one thing that encompasses any problem we might face: "…and I will give you rest." —Exodus 33:14 God will give us rest? Some of us had fathers who pushed and pushed us to the brink of mental and physical exhaustion. God the Father is different. He comforts us. Yes, He has things for you to do— and those things are very important—but Scripture makes it clear that those things are done by depending on God's strength working through us, rather than by us using our strength to try to do things for Him. "It was I [God] who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek and I bent down to feed them." —Hosea 11:3-4 In this passage from Hosea, we see that God not only takes our burdens, but He WANTS to take them because of His unending love for us! There is no limit to what He is able to handle, nor to what He will do for you. That brings up a pretty deep question: What have you been struggling with in your own strength, rather than trusting it to the Father who loves you? Father, take the burdens I've placed on myself. I can't tackle these things on my own. I release what I've been trying to do myself to You. I give up trying on my own. I trust in Your strength so I may constantly rest in Your comfort. Amen. Do Good Works We are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us. —Ephesians 2:10 Years ago, when I first started walking more intimately with God, I used to wait for some special confirmation from Him for everything I wanted to do—until I learned that His Spirit abides in me to do good works. In the early years of walking with God, it was in my heart to give ten dollars to a woman in need. I carried that desire in my heart for three weeks until I finally prayed, “God, is it really You telling me to give this person the money? I’ll do it if it’s really You!” Ten dollars was a lot of money back then and I did not want to part with it unless I had clear direction from God. He spoke to me so clearly and responded, “Joyce, even if it isn’t really Me, I won’t get mad at you if you bless somebody!” One of the fruits of the fact that God’s Spirit lives within us is goodness (see Galatians 5:22–23). Therefore, we have desires to be good to people. God told Abraham that He was going to bless him so he could be a blessing to others (see Genesis 12:2). Imagine how awesome it would be to reach the point where we simply live to make others happy as a service to God.
  5. 5. The world is full of people with needs. There is always someone, somewhere, who needs a word of encouragement. Someone needs a babysitter, help with transportation, or financial help. I find that when I spend time with God I feel a strong desire to help somebody and I have learned that desire is God speaking to me. God is good and when we spend time with Him we want to do good things for others. Ask God each day to show you whom you can bless and remember that where love is, God abides (see 1 John 4:12). God’s word for you today: Take advantage of every opportunity you have to do something good. Today’s Thoughts: One Thing Will Remain Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. Matthew 24:35 Time passes and life goes on, but there will come a day when the world as we know it will cease and pass away. Heaven and earth will be gone. In Noah's day, even as he built the ark and told the people of what was to come, they continued on as usual. They ate, drank, married and did all the things in life just as they always had done. Then the rains came, and within 40 days every living thing was under water, except for Noah and his family. Noah's family was safe in the ark. They listened to God's words and were saved. The Bible is filled with prophecies concerning the last days. Many biblical scholars who study prophecy fully believe that we are in the last days and that at any moment our lives will be forever changed. Jesus could return at any moment. Are you ready? Or do you think that your life will just keep going? God did promise us that one thing would continue. He told us that His Word will never pass away. His Word through His Son, Jesus, will save us. All we have to do is believe in Him to live forever with Him. Our bodies will die but our eternal life will go on and on. We need to live for that day when we hear the Lord say, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord' (Matthew 25:23). The memory of the righteous will be a blessing… --Proverbs 10:7 Memories link us to our past and guide us through our daily lives. It's easier for some to recall names and phone numbers, while others have a more difficult time remembering these things. Normal memory loss or forgetfulness will afflict all of us at some point in our lives—whether it's due to disease, aging, or stress. To stimulate your memory, be sure to exercise regularly. There are numerous benefits from exercise, especially memory retention. It doesn't have to be strenuous—just a mild form of aerobic exercise, such as walking for 15-20 minutes a few times a week, or moving your arms and legs around several times a day. It's a chain reaction—physical activity encourages good sleeping habits, which gives your brain the rest it needs, and in turn, helps with alertness and good memory. It's also important to establish a routine. People benefit from having a routine dealing with daily tasks. When one task is remembered, it then triggers a series of memories. Daily tasks include things like brushing your teeth, taking medication, reading a book, and even parking the car in the same spot each time. Your memory will also increase by organizing your personal space. You can avoid hours of searching for that "lost" item by eliminating clutter throughout your living place. Use those extra
  6. 6. closets to organize the extra items sitting around your house and label things so you will know what's where. While this may not seem like a devotional, God desires for us to help ourselves and He'll help us as well. PRAYER CHALLENGE: Ask God to help you take control of the things in your life that can help you enhance your memory skills. Thank God for the alertness and memory that you have today. Without murmur, uncomplaining In His hand, Leave whatever things thou canst not Understand. K. R. HAGENBACH. One great characteristic of holiness is never to be exacting--never to complain. Each complaint drags us down a degree, in our upward course. If you would discern in whom God's spirit dwells, watch that person, and notice whether you ever hear him murmur. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. — Habakkuk 2:3 NLT Insight Evil and injustice seem to have the upper hand in the world. Like Habakkuk, Christians often feel angry and discouraged as they see what goes on. Habakkuk complained vigorously to God about the situation. God's answer to Habakkuk is the same answer he would give us: “Be patient! I will work out my plans in my perfect timing.” Challenge It isn't easy to be patient, but it helps to remember that God hates sin even more than we do. Punishment of sin will certainly come. As God told Habakkuk, “Wait patiently.” To trust God fully means to trust him even when we don't understand why events occur as they do. Perseverance is the badge of true saints. The Christian life is not a beginning only in the ways of God, but also a continuance in the same as long as life lasts. It is with a Christian as it was with the great Napoleon: he said, "Conquest has made me what I am, and conquest must maintain me." So, under God, dear brother in the Lord, conquest has made you what you are, and conquest must sustain you. He only is a true conqueror, and shall be crowned at the last, who continueth till war's trumpet is blown no more. Perseverance is, therefore, the target of all our spiritual enemies. The world does not object to your being a Christian for a time, if she can but tempt you to cease your pilgrimage, and settle down to buy and sell with her in Vanity Fair. The flesh will seek to ensnare you, and to prevent your pressing on to glory. "It is weary work being a pilgrim; come, give it up. Am I always to be mortified? Am I never to be indulged? Give me at least a furlough from this constant warfare." Satan will make many a fierce attack on your perseverance; it will be the mark for all his arrows. He will strive to hinder you in service: he will insinuate that you are doing no good; and that you want rest. He will endeavour to make you weary of suffering, he will whisper, "Curse God, and die." Or he will attack your steadfastness: "What is
  7. 7. the good of being so zealous? Be quiet like the rest; sleep as do others, and let your lamp go out as the other virgins do." Or he will assail your doctrinal sentiments: "Why do you hold to these denominational creeds? Sensible men are getting more liberal; they are removing the old landmarks: fall in with the times." Wear your shield, Christian, therefore, close upon your armour, and cry mightily unto God, that by his Spirit you may endure to the end. To win an Olympic medal is perhaps one of history's most coveted kinds of victory -- whether gold, silver, or bronze. But the apostles made more than one reference to victory crowns in their day, especially athletic crowns, that will ultimately fade away -- contrasting them with the "imperishable … crown of glory that does not fade away…" (1 Corinthians 9:25; 1 Peter 5:4). The victory over death won by Jesus Christ is the victory in which we share as His followers. Few of us will breathe the rarified air atop an Olympic victory stand. But all it takes is faith in Jesus to participate in eternity's greatest victory celebration. Let's keep our chins up and our knees down -- we're on the victory side! Alan Redpath God’s Spirit: An Essential Luke 24:36-49 Just how necessary is the Holy Spirit for those wishing to live a God-pleasing life? For an answer, let’s look at a clear example from the Bible. Jesus had told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until their baptism by His Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). This chosen group of men had lived with the Lord and listened to His teachings for more than three years; nevertheless, He knew they couldn’t begin their work without the divine partner God had planned for them. The same holds true for us today. Just who is the Holy Spirit? He is called the third person of the Trinity, the other two members being God the Father and God the Son. Like them, He is fully God. Some Christians mistakenly think of the Spirit as a force or a power, but the Bible reveals He is a person—someone whom we can get to know. He is also the promise of the Father. God pledged to send His Spirit as a helper to every single person in His family. Called the Spirit of truth (John 14:16-17), He is charged with transforming us into the image of Jesus. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is a gift to every Christian. At the moment of salvation, He is sent to live within each believer, sealing him or her as a child of God (Eph. 1:13). We do not have to pray to receive Him, nor can we perform any work to get Him. Settle in your mind once and for all that within you is a divine Person. His presence is a gift promised and given to you by God on your spiritual “birth-day.” By getting to know the Holy Spirit better and listening carefully to what He says throughout the Scriptures, you will be able to please the Father (Col. 1:10). Joshua was mighty warrior, but he lost the first battle at Ai because one of the men with him broke the Lords commandment concerning Jericho. He was betrayed, and it was not even Joshuas fault, but still he felt guilty about it. As he lay on his face, crying out to the Lord in pain, hurt, depression, defeated, he got an answer. The Lord had a solution: Get up! Deal with the past, and lets go. He was not to lay there a moment longer, as he was being slowly swallowed in self pity, anxiety, and fear of what might happen because of this defeat. Joshua got up, dealt with it, and was never defeated again.
  8. 8. If you have something in your past, even though it was not your fault, that is haunting you today, do what Joshua did: lay it before the Lord and pray until you get your answer. The strength, wisdom and encouragement to deal with it will come. The Lord can set you free from your past and help you make things right today. Dont give up. Dont lay there. Get up! Under Construction by Joyce Meyer - posted June 01, 2013 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. —James 1:2-4 NKJV As God is working out His perfect plan for us, we often want it to happen right now. But character development takes time and patience. James tells us that when patience has had its perfect work, we will be perfect (fully developed) and complete, lacking nothing. James also speaks about trials of all kinds, and it is during these trials that we are instructed to be patient. Patience is not the ability to wait; it is the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit that manifests itself in a calm, positive attitude despite the circumstances. “Due season” is God’s season, not ours. We are in a hurry, but God isn’t. He takes time to do things right–He lays a solid foundation before He attempts to build a building. We are God’s building under construction. He is the Master Builder, and He knows what He is doing. God’s timing seems to be His own little secret. The Bible promises that He will never be late, but I have also discovered that He is usually not early. It seems that He takes His every available opportunity to develop the fruit of patience in us. Love Yourself Today: When you’re feeling impatient, remember: You’re still under construction. Today, God's message for you is that patience is one of the greatest gifts you can give, to others and to yourself. Do not hurry through life; it goes by fast enough as it is. Today, God’s message for you is to love the life you have. Be grateful for everything in it. Gratitude will serve you well, and loving the life you have will bring delight in every way. Even if today is no good, be happy that there is always a tomorrow. Tomorrow can always bring more happiness, more joy, and better luck. Tomorrow has exponentially more potential than yesterday. Yesterday is but today's memory and tomorrow is today's dream. Be happy for tomorrow. One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. ( Psalm 27:4-5) If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change. Today, God’s message for you is to remember God’s presence can be found in the smallest of things and in the largest of things. Take comfort in the presence of God in everything you do and everywhere you go. You will never walk alone.
  9. 9. The LORD is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life- of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1) If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you'll never enjoy the sunshine. Here are the two best prayers I know: 'Help me, help me, help me' and 'Thank you, thank you, thank you.' (Anne Lamott) The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. ( Proverbs 18:10) Today, God's message to you is that this day is unique. There will never be another like it. No matter what happens today, it's up to you to make the most of it. Whatever you are, always be a good one. Work hard, play hard, laugh hard. Whatever kind of person you are, be happy that you are the best you there is. Recognize that you have the courage within you to fulfill the purpose of your birth. Summon forth the power of your inner courage and live the life of your dreams. (Gurumayi Chidvilasananda) Today, God’s message for you is to find order in chaos. Sometimes things must regroup to form a better path. Learn to be patient while things fall in order, and stop getting frustrated. See the better path. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time--God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:1216) Today, God’s message for you is to find love in the ways of others. They may not be the same as your ways, though they still might be just as loving, if you only understood. Find the loving ways in someone else, and you may be surprised to see that love is everywhere. Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's when you've had everything to do, and you've done it. (Margaret Thatcher) Today, God’s message for you is not to be discouraged. Life can disappoint and send all kinds of setbacks. Don’t let them get to you. No matter the circumstances, God is ready to encourage you. Come to Him and find the comfort you need. Today, God’s message for you is: Have you ever stopped to think about that little voice in your mind? The one that says, “I’m no good?” or, “I can’t do this.” How about, “With God’s strength, I know I can face up to this challenge?” The key to self talk is to turn it from something negative into something positive. You’re made in God’s image, capable to handle anything He has for you. Let that guide your self talk today. Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the LORD gave
  10. 10. Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. (1 Chronicles 22:13). Even when things aren't going as planned, be happy for what you have learned through your difficult experiences. Remember, you've gained wisdom and knowledge that you otherwise would not have obtained. Today, God's message for you is that you should strive daily to be the change you want to see in the world. Remember that your example affects those around you. Like water over rocks, the changes may not be visible from day to day, but one day you will see the cumulative effect and it will be beautiful. Forgiveness is having the courage to take down the walls that we think are there to protect us. The LORD gave this command to Joshua son of Nun: Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the Israelites into the land I promised them on oath, and I myself will be with you. (Deuteronomy 31:23) Today, God’s message for you is release fear. Though life provides difficulties to strengthen your spirits you do no face them alone. God is with you, beside you, and surrounding you. He will provide all the help you need, he will hold you up. His source of comfort, security, and infinite love knows no end. Be happy that there are people out there saving endangered animals and using organic fuel that is not polluting the atmosphere. Be happy that there are people who work everyday to make Earth a better place for us to live. Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. (Anonymous) There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear ... (1 John 4:18) A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral. (Antoine de Saint-Exupery) It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop. There are times that you will stroll and times when you will run. The world around you does not and will not stop so you must keep moving with it. Today, God's message for you is that true wealth is not found in material possessions but in love. Love is the most solid investment you can make; the more you give of it to others the more you receive in return. Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. (Proverbs 16:3) Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time. Then your time on earth will be filled with glory. (Betty Smith) Today, God’s message for you is that you are perfect just the way you are. This isn’t to say that you are finished, only that you are well on your way. Yet, for this time, this place, wherever you may be in life, you are still perfect, every step of the way. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways
  11. 11. acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6) Be friendly and approachable. Christ adored children for their simple minds. He asked us to be like them, childlike and humble. Being friendly and approachable is the best way to learn something new for everyone you meet can teach you something. The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning. (Pele) Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. Daniel 2:20-22 Today, God’s message for you is to give yourself some time. Whether you need time to think it over, time to heal, time to have fun, or time for doing nothing whatsoever, it's yours if you just give time to yourself. We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same. (Anne Frank) So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ( Isaiah 41:10) Today, God’s message for you is that not everything is black and white. Humanity is a grey area, and each man, woman, and child is uniquely individual. What works for one might not work for another. Be accepting of others. Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. (Joe Paterno) Immediately he spoke to them and said, Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid. Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed (Mark 6:51) The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. (Psalm 23) Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better. (Sydney J. Harris) Today, God’s message for you is to laugh. There is joy and happiness to be found even in the darkest of hours. Be the eternal optimist that leads those around you to see the promise of God for a future full of hope. Today, God's message for you is that forgiveness is the key to freedom from the past, especially when you extend it to yourself. Guilt is a prison that limits your potential. If you don't change your beliefs, your life will be like this forever. Is that good news? (Robert Anthony)
  12. 12. If you keep doing what you've always done, you'll keep getting what you've always gotten. (Anonymous) Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12) Today, God’s message for you is to forgive others. To forgive someone else’s shortcomings is to heal old wounds. This doesn’t mean it need be forgotten, as it is a lesson learned, nor does it mean to allow it to happen again. It only means to forgive, and to allow it to heal. Today, God's message to you is to think about the legacy you will leave behind when you die. How will people remember you? Will they remember you as kind, giving, loving, humble, and selfless? Be sure that people will remember you for how you live, so live righteously. No matter what you do there will be critics! To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end in life. (Baruch Spinoza) Today, God's message for you is that you are both a teacher and a student in this world. Learn from others and pass your lessons along with kindness and compassion. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6) The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior! He is the God who avenges me, who subdues nations under me, who saves me from my enemies. You exalted me above my foes; from violent men you rescued me. Therefore I will praise you among the nations, O LORD; I will sing praises to your name. (Psalm 18:46-49) Growth in wisdom may be exactly measured by decrease in bitterness. (Friedrich Nietzsche) Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16) Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me; O LORD, be my help. You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever. ( Psalm 30:10-12) Today, God’s message for you is to look at the bigger picture. Step back, and cease microanalysis that does not serve. In looking at the bigger picture, it will look much better. Strive for excellence, not perfection. (H. Jackson Brown, Jr.) We aren't what we ought to be. We aren't what we're going to be. We aren't what we want to be. But, thank God, we aren't what we were. (Anonymous) Today, God’s message for you is to take a good look at the world around you. Marvel at the beauty, even if you live in a “concrete urban jungle.” From the flowers in the window boxes, to the trees lining the sidewalks, to the majestic mountains-all of it is God’s handiwork. Learn to
  13. 13. appreciate God through His creation today. Happiness is a state of being and it comes naturally on its own. It doesn’t need any effort or action to achieve this state. For example, to let the Sunlight enter your room all it needs is, to open the closed window. Similarly, to receive the grace of happiness all that is required is to clear your mind of all clutter and negative thoughts and be thankful for this wonderful life. Today, God’s message for you is that He knows you intimately. He knows of your desires and struggles. He knows of your thoughts and secrets. He knows of your joys and pains. He knows of your needs. He loves you for who you are. When people shake their heads because we are living in a restless age, ask them how they would like to live in stationary one, and do without change. (George Bernard Shaw) ... say to those with fearful hearts, Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you. ( Isaiah 35:4 ) Isaiah 40:31 31 But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired. All Christians have a responsibility both to practice and to proclaim their faith. Evangelism is not optional. But what about when hard times come? Don’t we get a break? Aren’t we exempt from the “Great Commission”—at least until our lives calm down? Not really. Trials aren’t an excuse for not sharing our faith; on the contrary, they are an opportunity to speak out for God. The apostle Paul says as much in the passage above. It is during these times that God gives us the strength to endure in order to keep going in our task of kingdom building. In fact our endurance fuels our message. Trials didn’t stop Paul from announcing the Good News; they should not deter us either. God’s Promise to Me I have forgiven your sin and reconciled you to myself. I have given you Good News to share with others. My Prayer to God God, you have given the gospel to me so that I might show it and share it. Help me to see beyond my problems today, to my real purpose—building your kingdom. Give me creativity in using my struggles to speak for you. Nothing Is Impossible With Faith in God [Jesus] replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20 In this verse Jesus wasn’t pointing to a measurement of faith, as though we could check our faith by stepping on a scale and claiming that the extra weight comes from extra faith. (Wouldn’t that would be nice?) Immediately after saying the disciples didn’t have enough faith, Jesus told them that even faith as small as a tiny mustard seed would be enough to move a mountain. Obviously it was not
  14. 14. the amount of faith but the focus of the faith. Earlier in Matthew 17 the disciples had tried to cast out a demon without success. Perhaps they had tried to cast it out depending on what they considered their own power. Whatever occurred, their faith must have been in the wrong place. When they put their faith in the right place—in the allpowerful God—then even a tiny grain of faith would be enough. Nothing is impossible when our faith is in God. This kind of faith moves mountains and makes all things possible. At times we may feel that we have great faith; at other times we may feel that our faith is suffering. In the end, however, if even that suffering faith is in God, then it is enough to do the impossible! God’s Promise to Me If you have faith in me as small as a mustard seed, then it is enough to move mountains and do the impossible. My Prayer to God You promise, Lord, that with faith in you nothing is impossible. Thank you for being the God of the possible. Help me to remember that my faith, even small and weak, can do great things for you. here are several keys to God's peace overriding the mayhem. When we remember to focus on God's sweet goodness, instead of all the scribbles on our calendar, we can be proactive in managing summertime. We can receive God's calm, even in a busy and sometimes stressful time of the year. Here are some specific ways to do so: Focusing on all the good things God has done for us, instead of the challenges of summer. Remaining calm and praying for God's peace when the demands of family and life seem overwhelming. Asking God to give us rest and strength when we begin to feel stretched thin and worn out. We can also take some additional steps to keep summer stress at bay. Such as: Take daily mini-vacations. Try to set aside at least five minutes per hour to stretch and take a break. When you take days off from your work or daily routine, unplug completely—meaning no phone or emails. Keep a checklist or a detailed calendar of all scheduled activities. Do something for yourself once a week: take a bubble bath, read a good book, spend time outdoors or take a nap. Busyness and stress can heat up quicker than the summer sun. But it is possible to stay cool on the inside. Whether we are low in spirit or low in energy, depending on God and seeking a daily infusion of His strength and peace can ensure a less stressful summer. Dear Jesus, sometimes I allow the chaos of summer to distract me from spending time with You. I neglect to claim Your peace and allow myself to get bogged down with the stressors of the season. I get frustrated with my children, rather than treasuring this time with them. Help me to focus on You when I begin to feel overcommitted and to seek Your peace with each rising sun. In Your Name, Amen.
  15. 15. Ministry to the Gentiles Matthew 15:29–39 Matthew Henry writes: “Forgetting former experiences leaves us under present doubts.“ We are quick to forget all that God has done for us in the past and grow impatient when He does not act in the manner that we desire in the present. We sometimes then doubt His love for us even though He has shown Himself good and true in our past. If you are having trouble trusting the Lord this day, remember an occasion in the past in which He provided for you. God Rewards Your Quiet Time With Him But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:6 There is a thriving breed of people in America known as the Coffee Shop Writers. They cannot work anywhere else except in the bustling coffee shop of their neighborhood. They settle in, get their coffee and work tirelessly on their novel, article or screenplay. They seem to believe that their work needs an audience—both before and after publication. Even though this is a specialized group, in reality you can find people with a similar perspective in all walks of life: lifting weights, taking pictures, cooking, running, working or even eating. People are beginning to find it difficult to do anything without an audience. The last thing God wants our spiritual life to become is a show we put on for others. Prayer should be a time of personal reflection and divine conversation. It needs to be between us and God. That’s it. Even when you’re not on your cell phone, your webcam is off and you’re not engaging in social media, you still have an audience of One—and he knows your heart. God’s Promise to Me I will always be personal, and I will always be with you. Others look on the outside, I will always look at the heart. My Prayer to God Lord, thank you for always listening to me. Help me to remember that even though I follow you in deed and in word, our relationship is a personal one. Psalm 138:8 The Lord will work out his plans for my life— for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me. You Are God’s Temple Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? . . . What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 2 Corinthians 6:14,16 If you’ve ever seen two yoked animals, you know that a matched pair of animals is necessary. Otherwise, they won’t move as a team. That’s why you would never yoke a horse with an ox. These verses from Corinthians offer excellent advice for all kinds of relationships. To be yoked
  16. 16. with someone means you are working with them as a team. Sometimes believers read these verses and they are tempted to think they need to build a high wall around themselves, close the drawbridge and never come out lest they be infected by the evil world. That’s not what the rest of the Bible tells us, however, nor was that Jesus’ example to us. We need to pray that we can be around unbelievers—at school, at work, in the neighborhood—and yet not be influenced by them. We need to discern how to have friendships with unbelievers and yet know where to draw the line. We need to interact with them, but not be yoked to them. We need to pray that we will shine for Christ and influence unbelievers—not the other way around. God’s Promise to Me You are my temple. I am your God and I walk beside you. My Prayer to God Heavenly Father, because we are your temples, you command that we not make lasting commitments with unbelievers. Thank you for the promise that you will walk among us and be our God. Today, God’s message for you is to recognize that you are what the world needs most, give freely of yourself. You were created with a purpose, which only you may fulfill. Our lord may work in mysterious ways, but rest assured you are on a very sacred path, traveling in just the right direction for this moment. Each day will urge you toward this higher good. Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. ( Philippians 1:6) God Provides a Solution for Harried Saints The Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! Isaiah 30:18 George Santayana once observed, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This is precisely the reason the church (i.e. the modern day people of God) is wise to ponder carefully the experience of the Jews in the Old Testament. By the time Isaiah arrived on the scene in 739 BC, Judah was in big-time trouble. Like the ten tribes of Israel to the north, the two southern tribes had forgotten God and were beginning to experience life apart from his blessing. Isaiah urged them to turn around . . . or else. The details vary, but the principles and promise are still valid today. To experience all that God wants for us, we must turn to him—and wait for him in faith. If we ignore him, we do so at our own peril. God’s Promise to Me Return to me, wait for me and I will deliver you. You will find strength when you trust me. My Prayer to God Lord, you are sovereign and holy. Forgive me for acting as though I am in charge of my own life and for doing unholy things. I will turn to you and wait for you.
  17. 17. 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9). Food for Thought Perhaps you have heard the expression “We don’t know what we don’t know.” I have used it in a business context for years, and it essentially means that when we face a major new challenge for which our understanding is woefully inadequate, we don’t know enough to fully appreciate what we don’t know. It’s an expression that humbly confesses ignorance in the face of something very big and very complex. That’s the way I feel about God. The God who created the universe is so big, so powerful, and so far beyond my ability to comprehend, that I don’t know what I don’t know about God. I can no more comprehend God’s ways than my dog Sophie can comprehend my ways. We will always be tempted to ask the question “Why did God choose to do it that way?” We might ask, for example, why did he make the universe so large, or why does life seem so rare in the known universe? We might ask why he made the sky blue and the grass green. And we might also ask why he chose to allow evil to exist, why he gave us free will, why he chose to reveal himself so slowly over thousands of years instead of all at once. We always want to know why he chose to do things the way he did. There are an infinite number of scripts he could have written, but for reasons only God understands, he wrote this one. And here’s the point: no matter which script he chose, we would always wonder why he didn’t choose a different one, one that made more sense to us. The only real answer is that he is God, and we are not. We are a lot like children who keep asking their parents, “Why?” And sometimes parents just have to answer, “Because I said so.” So as you read more about the big story of God, focus less on the why and more on the how—how you fit in to the amazing story of God’s love. Question for Reflection Would it be possible to understand everything about who God is and why he operates the way he does? Which mysteries about God do you wrestle with most? Prayer Lord, thank you for being infinite and good. I know that I am neither. Please help me to know these facts and to trust you as a result. The LORD is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life- of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1) Create the kind of self you will be happy to live with all your life. (Foster C. McClellan) Today, God’s message for you is to walk away from hopeless and impossible situations. The
  18. 18. decision to do this will empower you and give you strength. The minute you do this, feelings of hope will begin and you will be able to make a fresh start. God’s Word Points the Way to Success Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Joshua 1:8 It’s the same every weekend. Tens of thousands of people pack convention centers and hotel ballrooms across the country to hear self-help gurus and financial experts speak on how to be successful. Most of these events are slick and entertaining, with attendees caught up in the possibility of “realizing their potential” or “seeing their dreams become a reality.” And many of the people come away feeling motivated and helped. But how much of the advice they hear really squares with what God has said about how to succeed? According to today’s verse, true success isn’t about making money, positive thinking or getting people to do what you want. God defines success as knowing and doing his Word. We achieve lasting glory when our sole goal is to honor the Lord. God’s Promise to Me If you study, meditate on and obey my Word, you will have success. My Prayer to God You have given me your Word, Lord. Thank you for revealing yourself and for showing me the right and best way to live. True success requires me to be immersed in and submitted to your truth. Give me the discipline to study, the desire to meditate on and the courage to obey the Scriptures. Matthew 16:25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. After encountering Jesus, you can’t just go back to your old life. That is not an option. It changes everything. Question for Reflection Have you encountered Jesus? If so, how has it changed your life? Prayer Father, thank you for pursuing me, for revealing yourself to me. Help me to remember my first excitement in discovering your good news, and to share it with others in word and deed. As Weak as Our Strongest Link "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV) One day I tweeted, "We are only as weak as our strongest link." It wasn't a typo. It's something I've been thinking about for a while now. Often the Bible talks in counter-intuitive statements. Different than the normal flow. An unexpected rub against the grain.
  19. 19. To gain, you must give up. If someone takes your jacket, give them your shoes too. When we are weak, then we are strong. Tough stuff. Good stuff. Heart-protecting stuff. The minute I start feeling absolutely confident in my own strength is the minute I am desperately weak ... and I don't even realize it. The Lord reminded me of this right before I stepped on stage to speak to 4,500 women at a large conference. One minute I was walking backstage to get my microphone on and the next minute I was on the ground with my face pressed into the cement floor. My heel had gotten caught in a crack in the floor and that's all it took to bring me down. My first thoughts were not spiritual. Have mercy, I've probably split my pants wide open and there is no time to change! I quickly picked myself up, put on the over-ear microphone, and went on stage. I felt so vulnerable. Inside my head I whispered, Lord, I'm not ready. I don't want to speak right now. I want to go crawl in a hole with a mirror so I can check my pants! I tried as discretely as possible to make sure the seams in my pants were in tact. My heart drummed wildly in my chest as I prayed, Jesus, I am completely desperate for You. And I imagine the Lord thought, Good. She's ready. Now, this is going to be powerful. I'd left my strength, confidence and self-sufficiency back on that concrete floor. Next to the crack that tripped me up. And my weakness made room for God's strength to take over. My weakness wasn't what could have messed me up that day. It was my strength. We are only as weak as our strongest link. Sometimes it's not our weaknesses that leave us vulnerable to attack. It's our strengths. Those places where we feel especially confident, invincible, and quite able. But, as a friend reminded me recently, "Our strengths can become strongholds if we're not careful." When Paul pleaded with the Lord to remove the thorn in his flesh—the thing that made Paul feel weak—the Lord did not. Instead, the Lord reminded Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9a NIV). Paul took hold of this truth and went on to conclude in verse 10, "For when I am weak, then I am strong" (12:10b NIV). Which leads me to wonder if the opposite is also true ... where I am strong, then I am weak. I'm making a conscious effort to stay in tune with what strengths might easily trip me up. Really doing some soul-searching. Praying. Listening for direction and correction. Then, walking in complete faith. Because if we're going to call ourselves people of faith, we must live lives that
  20. 20. require faith. For me this means accepting my weaknesses rather than boasting in my strengths. Faith is like walking over a bridge, where we cross over from relying on our strength to God's strength. It's a powerful walk to take. However, I really wouldn't recommend wearing high-heeled shoes. Dear Lord, reveal to me the places where I'm relying on my own power instead of Yours. Show me what strengths could be my biggest weaknesses, God, so that I can learn to serve You better. In Jesus' Name, Amen. Reflect and Respond: What strength could easily trip you up today? Ask God to give you spiritual ears to hear any direction or correction He whispers. What would it look like to exchange your weakness for God's strength? Power Verse: Ephesians 6:10, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power." (NIV) Today, God's message for you is that it is important to take time to see the beauty in the world that surrounds you. Watch a sunrise or sunset, observe the vibrant colors of nature's changing seasons, or count the stars on a moonless night. Enjoy the gift you have been given of life on this earth and all it has to offer. God Helps His People Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress . . . Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. Psalm 107:19-21 A few questions for those with a tendency to worry (pause briefly and ponder each one): What situations in life are you most worried about right now? Why? Of the various situations currently prompting anxiety in your life, which can you personally change? Over what issues do you have absolutely no control? What are the inward and outward signs that something has got you really concerned and nervous? List all the benefits of worrying. What are some of the drawbacks? Is worrying a “sin”? Why or why not? How do you think God feels when his children are panicky and anxious? Why do some people seem almost immune to worry? When is the last time you truly felt at peace? Instead of worrying, you can cry out to God for help. In times of trouble, trust in God’s unfailing love. God’s Promise to Me When you cry out to me, I will help you. My Prayer to God God, I’m crying out to you for help. Help me trust that you will come to my rescue. Verse If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)
  21. 21. Food for Thought Years ago, I was dating a young woman named Reneé whom I loved very much. The only problem was that she was a committed Christian and I was an atheist. And to her, the truth that God had sent his Son, Jesus, to teach us, forgive us, and offer us a new way to live changed everything about her life—including who she would marry. I didn’t fully understand this. I was one of those “what’s true for you may not be true for me” kind of people. Why couldn’t we all just be happy? I couldn’t believe in Jesus just because he was a nice person and he made me feel good. I needed evidence that Christianity was actually true. So, prompted by my love for the girl I would someday marry, I decided to research the claims of this whole Christianity deal. I read everything from comparative religion and philosophy to archaeology, science, faith, apologetics, and history. My mind raced as I considered, maybe for the first time ever, the fundamental questions of our lives. This is not a book about apologetics, so I won’t try to summarize all that I learned. But I will share my conclusion. I came to believe that the most plausible explanation for the universe was that God was real and he had created all that we see; that there was a painter behind this incredible painting, an author behind this astonishing story. I also came to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed God incarnate—that God had taken human form in order to inaugurate a new and deeper kind of relationship with us. I based my belief on both historical evidence for the resurrection and also the inherent ring of truth I found in Scripture. It had a depth and solidity to it, a consistency that spoke for itself, that felt “self-evident.” The evidence for the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus seemed as unimpeachable as the evidence that Julius Caesar had been the emperor of Rome. So I knelt before the God of the universe one day in West Philadelphia and said, Yes! Yes, I am your child. Yes, I want to know you and learn from you, and yes, I want to live every day of my life with you, yes!” And I also knew that my life would never be the same because Jesus changed everything. Question for Reflection What has your journey to faith looked like so far? Prayer Father, thank you for your word, your Holy Spirit, your church, and your creation, and how they all work together to reveal you. Please help me find the truth just as you helped Rich. Walking on Water Matthew 14:22–36 As many commentators have said regarding this passage, Peter’s faith is much like ours, small and incomplete, a mixture of trust and doubt. Nevertheless, God does not wait for us to have perfect faith before He saves us. The mere presence of authentic trust is required, and periods of doubt say nothing about the legitimacy of our faith. No matter the fervor of your trust this day, know that Jesus is a Savior who rescues those who struggle with doubt.
  22. 22. The supreme happiness of life is the conviction of being loved for yourself, or, more correctly, being loved in spite of yourself. (Victor Hugo) God Promises Good Plans for Your Life “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:11-12 These powerful words are part of a letter from the prophet Jeremiah to the Jews who had been exiled to Babylon. Their beloved city, Jerusalem, had been destroyed, and the people had been carted away from the land. Things could not have been much worse. Yet this was what God had promised if the people continued their disobedience. Reading 1 and 2 Kings will quickly reveal the depth of the people’s faithlessness. So great is God’s love, however, that he promised to bring his people home again (see Jeremiah 29:10). Then follows the amazing promise that God has plans for them—good plans—that give them a future and a hope. When they pray, he will listen. As God’s people today, we also can claim this promise. God does have plans for us, plans to prosper and not to harm, plans that will give us a future and a hope. God’s plans are good. Thank the Lord for the promise of good plans full of hope. God’s Promise to Me I have plans for your life. When you pray, I will listen. My Prayer to God Thank you for your plans, Lord. You promise that when I pray, you will listen. Help me persevere in seeking you. In seeking you, I know that I will find you. Does it make sense that the millions of plants and animals we see today; the remarkable music and art of human beings; the incredible civilizations of Egypt, Rome, Western Europe, China, and Japan; the technologies that created television, cell phones, computers, and spaceships; and incredible cities like New York, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, and Tokyo just happened? Now I know that my little argument won’t convince the academics who are battling this out in universities all over the world, but it usually makes sense to ordinary people who also can look at our amazing universe and reach a similar conclusion—there has to be a painter; there has to be an Author. Question for Reflection How does the natural world make God seem more or less real to you? Prayer God, thank you for surrounding me with a stunningly beautiful natural world that seems infinitely complex. Please help me to understand you better as I understand your creation. Reflect and Respond: Do you fill your heart and mind with the benefits of God that keep you close to His heart, or do you constantly allow your heart to wander from God's safety and care? Read Psalm 103 in its entirety and make a list of the benefits of God you find and rehearse them in your mind today.
  23. 23. Power Verses: Psalm 16:5-6, "LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance." God Uses Problems to Shape You We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance. Romans 5:3 Tell the truth. When you run into problems, what is your first and most common response: complaining? crying? yelling? denial? pouting? rejoicing? Unless you’re highly unusual (or slightly dishonest) you probably didn’t answer “rejoicing.” Let’s face it—it isn’t normal to be joyful in the face of trials. But you can develop this trait. According to the promise above, trials are good for you. How so? In the same way that an excruciating exercise regimen is good for you. You sweat and strain through painful and unpleasant workouts. But over time, if you keep at it, you see big changes. You’re stronger and healthier. Viewing your troubles as a kind of “spiritual exercise program” enables you to rejoice (see 1 Peter 1:6-7). It enables you to see your suffering as something good in your life. God is using trials in your life to stretch you and strengthen your faith. Without these pressures, you’d be just another flabby, out-of-shape Christian. God’s Promise to Me I allow you to go through trials so that you might grow. My Prayer to God God, you want me to trust you in the hard times. Rejoicing isn’t natural for me, so make it my supernatural response to difficulties and pressures in my life. Teach me to endure, Lord, so that my faith will grow and get stronger. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. "Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble." Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NLT) Lord, thank You for Your encouragement through Your Word and Your Holy Spirit. Thank You too for friendships that lift me up when I'm overwhelmed and down. Amen. Reflect and Respond: What makes you hesitate to reach out and share your frustrations? If you are not connected with close friends, look for a mom's group at a local church. Power Verses: Proverbs 11:2, "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom." (ESV) I have accepted fear as part of life--specifically the fear of change. I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says turn back. (Erica Jong) Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it. (Ezra 10:4)
  24. 24. Today, God's message for you is that every day is important. Learn from the past and plan for the future, but keep your focus on making the most of the gift that is today. Act on It Determine a time when you can focus on sensing the presence of God while you go about a task. Then spend time reflecting on the experience. Crumbs from the Table Matthew 15:21–28 John Calvin comments, “At no time, certainly, did God shut up his grace among the Jews in such a manner as not to bestow a small taste of them on the Gentiles.” Throughout redemptive history there have been Gentiles who have come to trust the God of Israel. Yet God is the covenant Lord of Israel, and, therefore, the Gospel goes to the Jew first. Take some time to pray for the physical sons of Abraham, that they would come to know Jesus. For further study: Zech. 14:16–19 As a young Christian, I knew God's Word was important. Reading the Bible became a central part of my life. But there were many years where it was more routine than life-changing. I read it because that's what "good" Christians did. My faith took a drastic leap forward when I realized God's Word had power when I believed it and acted on it. It had power because it was truth. It had power because it had the weight of heaven behind it. One of the first lessons God taught me was from James 1:5-6, where James tells of the importance of not doubting when we ask for wisdom: "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind" (NIV). I realized I doubted all the time. One day I decided to take God at His Word and stop doubting He would answer my prayers for wisdom. When I asked for direction, I trusted that my gut instinct was from God ... so long as it wasn't against His Word. The more I addressed doubt, the more my confidence grew that I was hearing from God. And the more I saw God move in my life. The power of God's Word changed my life drastically when I chose to believe and act on it. And while I still like to be asked for advice, now I point people in the direction of God's Words more than mine. The response is always life-changing. Heavenly Father, You are the source of true power and wisdom. Forgive me for all the times I've looked to myself for strength. I want to be a woman whose life is testimony to the power of Your Word to transform and renew. In Jesus' Name, Amen. Reflect and Respond: Why do you think God made sure His words and the story of His people were written down? Power Verses: Isaiah 55:11, "... so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." (NIV) Matthew 7:24-25, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice
  25. 25. is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had it's foundation on the rock." (NIV) No love, no friendship can cross the path of our destiny without leaving some mark on it forever. (Francois Muriac) Today God’s message for you is one of hope. Become aglow with the spirit. Move forward today, serving the lord. Rejoice the Holy Spirit so that others may recognize this joy in you. Remember to pray, and remain patient. Today’s trials and tribulations will reveal a welcome solution or lesson tomorrow. Hold tightly to hope, as the future with our God is bright One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. ( Psalm 27:4-5) When it comes to understanding the purpose of the church, we often have it backwards. The church does not exist for us, though we are central to its existence. The capital-C Church—which is the big-picture, universal Church that includes all believers—exists for Jesus alone. The Church is his bride (see Revelation 19:7; 21:2). The little-c church—which is the local church in a neighborhood near you—is how God reaches the masses with his gospel and love. It is also an incubator for baby Christians, a hospital for hurting people, a gathering place for all to worship and an opportunity for maturing believers to hone their spiritual gifts through serving one another. Although it is human nature to make life “all about me,” the church is all about serving Jesus through serving his people. That’s why petty arguments about the music being too loud, the music being too dull, the pastor talking too long, the service starting too early, the service starting too late and all the other rationales for why we resent the church for not catering to our preferences are just that—petty preferences that do not matter. The next time you try to make church all about you, remember this: The church is Jesus’ body (see 1 Corinthians 12:27). Jesus promises to build his church—regardless of our personal tastes (see Matthew 16:18). Jesus loved the church so much that he died for it. The church matters to him, so it should matter to us (see Ephesians 5:25–27). When we begin to make church more about Jesus and less about us, we look for ways to love the body of Christ. Ironically, God rewards our unselfish actions by meeting our needs in return—if we will just put him and his church first (see Matthew 6:33). “The local church is the classroom for learning how to get along in God’s family. It is a lab for practicing unselfish, sympathetic love.” —Rick Warren “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Ephesians 4:16 See also Acts 2:42–47; Galatians 6:2, 10; Colossians 3:15–16 Matthew 16:18 18 And I tell you, you are [a]Peter [Greek, Petros—a large piece of rock], and on this rock [Greek, petra—a [b]huge rock like Gibraltar] I will build My church, and the gates of Hades (the powers of the [c]infernal region) shall [d]not overpower it [or be strong to its detriment or hold out against it]. God Is Bigger Than Your Worldly Troubles
  26. 26. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33 Have you ever stopped to think how different life would be if we were still living in Eden? No broken relationships. No difficult pregnancies. No squabbles with spouses. No financial woes. No cancer. No feeling far away from God. (And this list doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface!) Instead we live in a world marred by the effects of sin. We daily face all kinds of pain, trouble, suffering, weeping, loss and despair. The temptation is to blame our woes on God, but let’s be honest: The human race did this to itself. All God ever did was love us, and—when we rebelled—implement a plan to rescue us. The promise above—a statement by Jesus to his followers—is a sobering assessment of the way things are. But it is also a hopeful reminder of the once and future Paradise for which we were created. In light of such truth, author Elisabeth Elliot counsels us: “Refuse self-pity. Refuse it absolutely. It is a deadly thing with power to destroy you. Turn your thoughts to Christ who has already carried your griefs and sorrows.” God’s Promise to Me Trials and sorrows are part of living in a fallen world. I am bigger and more powerful than any worldly troubles you face. My Prayer to God Heavenly Father, trials and sorrows are a normal part of life. I don’t like this truth, but it reminds me of my need for you, God. I can take heart in the fact that you will have the final word. I praise you because you are powerful and sovereign over my life—even the hard times. Always keep me looking to you. Genesis 1:1-2:3 In the very beginning, God creates all things. In His Image Read Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like ourselves. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27) Reflect God chose to create human beings different from the other animals, in his image—both male and female—and he gave them authority over all other living creatures. This gives us great value and raises an important question: In what ways are we made in God’s image? God obviously did not create us exactly like himself, because God has no physical body. Instead, we reflect God’s glory. Some believe that our reason, creativity, speech, or self-determination is the image of God. More likely, our entire self is what reflects the image of God. We will never be
  27. 27. totally like God because he is our supreme creator. But we do have the ability to reflect his character in our love, patience, forgiveness, kindness, and faithfulness. Knowing that we are made in God’s image and that we share many of his characteristics provides a solid basis for self-worth. Human worth is not based on possessions, achievements, physical attractiveness, or public acclaim; instead, it is based on being made in God’s image. Because we bear God’s image, we can feel confident in who we are. Criticizing ourselves is discounting what God has made and the abilities he has given us. Knowing that you are a person of worth helps you love God, know him personally, and contribute meaningfully to the lives of those around you. Respond Stop and thank God for creating you in his image. You are his unique creation and he loves you. Thank him for your special gifts, talents, abilities, physical characteristics, emotional makeup, and personality. And ask him to help you respect others, even those you don’t get along with, because they are his image-bearers as well. To adulterate is to contaminate. “Adultery” describes sex-sin, but adulteration is even broader. It leads to weakness and eventually disintegration. Adultery in pagan Greece and Rome was punishable by death, as it was in Old Testament Israel. So adulteration of soul and spirit—like physical adultery—leads to a separation from fellowship with God. Some married people have affairs because they think they will be happy. But the pure in spirit know the happiness coming from the joy of walking in uninterrupted communion with God. Cross of Christ Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross– Colossians 2:14 Two things must not be missed: first, Jesus is the one doing the nailing at the cross. While it is true that He allowed the Roman soldiers to pin Him down and pierce His hands and feet, fastening His body to the wood of the cross — it is also true that ultimately Jesus was in control of the entire situation. Jesus prophesied of the cross before He ever hung on it; He also reminded His disciples that no one was able to take His life from Him, but rather He would lay it down for His people. Jesus had come into the world for a purpose, and that purpose was to die, the just for the unjust, on the cross. Ultimately, it was Jesus who was nailing our sins to His cross when He allowed himself to be crucified. Secondly, Jesus’ action on the cross accomplished something definite. He did not just die so that some people might potentially be saved. When Jesus was crucified, the long rap sheet of our sins was blotted out; He nailed it to His cross. Therefore, those for whom Christ died are certainly saved, having no more condemnation against them. Are you among those whose sins Jesus took upon Himself? Did Jesus Christ nail your criminal record to His cross? Then your record is clean and your sins have been blotted out. Rekindling the Flame 1 Thessalonians 1:6 You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in
  28. 28. much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit. In my study at home I have a small, yellowed piece of paper framed in glass. It was given to me by a missionary who works with Chinese believers. Today, millions of Chinese Christians are meeting secretly in house churches to study the Word of God together. Many of them do not have a personal copy of the Bible. Often entire churches do not have access to a complete copy of the Scriptures. That is why this old piece of paper is so special to me; it happens to be a handwritten page—a portion of the New Testament in the Mandarin language. This piece of paper was once someone's copy of Scripture. Imagine . . . they didn't have a Bible—they had a page. Much like the Thessalonians, these believers obviously hungered to hear and have the Word of God. They had no doubt copied it many times over so that other believers could read from God's Word, perhaps never before hearing the truths that were written on this small page. What a contrast to most of us! The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association estimates that the average church-going family in America owns at least four Bibles. Perhaps one reason that we don't treasure the Scriptures is because we have such ready access to them. It's easy to take precious things for granted. We may have copies of the Bible lying on tables, closet shelves, and bookcases but this can lead to a serious problem: how does the truth within the pages of that closed Book penetrate our lives? There is a vast difference between having the Bible inside our home and having the Bible inside our heart. In 1 Thessalonians 1:6, we are told that the believers received the Word of God. They readily received its truth, even though it would mean tribulation and persecution. What we take for granted, the early church received with great hunger, as does the Chinese church today. We conclude these 30 days of contemplation with this challenge: let's ask Christ to rekindle in our hearts a greater love for His Word and a greater desire to hear and study it. Oh, that He would imprint on our hearts what we hold in our hands! God does not want you to simply possess a Bible . . . He wants the Bible to possess you. Prayer Point: Ask God to give you a stronger passion for His Word. That is exactly what we need: a hunger and thirst for the written Word—which leads to a greater love for Jesus Christ, the Living Word. Extra Refreshment: Read all of Psalms 119 and take note of each verse delivering some truth or principle about the Word of God. Enduring Grace @ Work – Part I "Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people."
  29. 29. -Ephesians 6:7 "Say to those with fearful hearts, 'Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.'" -Isaiah 35:4 A couple of my friends recently shared their greatest workplace challenges with me over coffee. Among their laments were: A boss with a double-mind; evil co-workers; multiple, drastic process changes and unattainable performance expectations. Though these friends prayed together at work, they felt they had seen little improvement. What’s more, they had grown weary in well-doing. They wanted to know where to go from where they were. Here are the results of that conversation that may help you, should you find yourself in difficult circumstances at work: God’s Purpose: Why Am I Here?– Yes, your job is for more than a paycheck! Your job is your divine assignment. It is your mission field. It is all divinely purposed! And it is seasonal! You are there so that God can do a work in you, through you and for you (on your behalf) simultaneously. He will use the people, the location and the daily circumstances to accomplish His will accordingly, even—and especially if—you find yourself in a job that you would’ve never selected for yourself. God will use it all! Are you willing to journey through it with Him and yield to His way of doing His work in, through and for you? God’s Strategy: What Do I Do?– Maintain a servant’s attitude, and do the job you were hired to do with excellence. Watch your mouth, your attitude and your actions. Affirm to God that you need His help. Ask God what He wants you to see, know and do amid your circumstances. Ask God to enable you to receive all He has for you and nothing that is not of Him. Ask God to reveal to you His vision, strategy, reinforcement, divine appointments and divine connections. Ask God for a Christian prayer partner or group. Ask God to lead you to the sources and resources that have what you need. All along the way, ask God to reveal His understanding and solutions to problems. Your journey will contain incremental successes. All of it will challenge you in the area of character building to prepare you for your next promotion. God knows and sees all things, and He will get you where He wants you to be and help you do what He wants you to do if you are willing to hearken. Pray for your boss, your co-workers and the company as the Holy Spirit leads. You will endure the journey and can be promoted faster (internally or externally) by processing through every challenge God’s way. Remember, God takes us from holiness to holiness, from glory to glory. Sometimes, He accomplishes this work quickly by taking us through the furnace. In so doing, He redeems lost time. God can do much in these accelerated times in which we work and live. He is the ultimate multitasker. So count it all good, and journey through God’s way, so you don’t have to perpetually cycle through rounds of testing. Guard Your Heart | Don Your Armor (Eph. 6:11-18) – Your heart belongs to God, so be careful with human connections, especially in your workplace. Not everyone will have your back or even like you. Some may feel envious or competitive towards you. Many will have different beliefs than yours. Kindness and prayer are strengths, but not everyone will be interested in what your heart has to offer. Apply wisdom. If people are not willing to receive what you are willing to give, there can be no deep connection without God’s transformational power intervening. Know this ahead of time; respect and accept others’ right to choose (God does); shake the dust off, and turn from situations where people do not accept you. In essence, don’t waste your time. Remember, Jesus suffered rejection, so you’re not alone. Speak a blessing over those who reject you, and ask God to redirect your path to those who are willing and able to receive. Be professional, move on and keep your eyes on the Lord.
  30. 30. Regarding your boss, she/he has a job to do, regardless of your friendly relationship with her/him. That means you must perform up to standard in the position for which you were hired. If you do not, you will be penalized. It is wrong to expect your boss to cover your inadequate performance regardless of whether you are friends with her/him. In workplaces, performance is paramount. Unless you are a member of a family business or own your own company, bosses will not typically extend the kind of grace your mother would. It is not their job to take care of you outside of your work life. It is their job to oversee you and your work while you are at work. They have a lot on their plate. And not all bosses will nurture you, simply due to time constraints. Various bosses have varying management styles. And different companies have different corporate cultures. Pray about this. Regardless of your circumstances, it is your responsibility to do the job you were hired to do with excellence unto the Lord. Excellence is Jesus’ standard. If it is impossible for you to meet the company’s standards, pray and perhaps speak to your boss about improving the processes that affect you or ask her/him to reassign you to an area where your strengths can shine. Ask God to make you aware when your job assignment is complete and finish well. How you finish is how you will enter into your next job assignment. And remember, God may give you a season of rest before your next assignment. So follow His lead. Do not allow yourself to be provoked by your boss or co-workers. Those of us who have high callings on our lives will be perpetually tested on this until we overcome this issue, the purpose being to mature us to a level where we can stand among multitudes and glorify God with our thoughts, speech, attitude and actions no matter what offense is hurled at us. Jesus did. Whoever is provoking you is God’s instrument in this regard, so count it as joy (James 1:2). Remember, God is sovereign, and no one can do anything short of God’s permissive will. As Christians, we are to respond from the Holy Spirit, not react from offense. If you find that someone gets under your skin frequently, it could be that God is trying to get your attention to turn to Him to learn how to become “unprovokable. “ You are in training for eternity! Ask God to help you, and listen to what He reveals to you. He knows just how to get you there! LIFE VERSE Ezra had determined to study and obey the Law of the LORD and to teach those decrees and regulations to the people of Israel. -Ezra 7:10 (NLT) Ezra 7:10 Amplified Bible (AMP) 10 For Ezra had [a]prepared and set his heart to seek the Law of the Lord [to inquire for it and of it, to require and yearn for it], and to do and teach in Israel its statutes and its ordinances. If you wanted to know what Ezra was all about, all you need to do is look at the verse above. We might even call this Ezra's "life verse," because it sums up his entire life. And what we need to take note of is that Ezra's life really revolved around the Law of the Lord (or God's Word). We can break this up into three distinct parts. First of all, we see that he was determined to study God's Word. Second, we read that he devoted himself to obeying it. And lastly, Ezra dedicated himself to teaching God's Word to others. Did you know this could serve as your life verse as well? It's His will for each and every believer to study or seek out His Word. Our hearts should be hungry for more and more of His Word. But the Lord doesn't want our Bible knowledge to stay stagnant in our brains. He wants us to practically obey and apply what we know (James 1:22). And once we've established a lifestyle of obedience to God's Word, He wants us to share what we know with others (Matthew 28:20). A lot of people are looking for purpose in their lives. They sense that they've been created for
  31. 31. something important, but they don't know what that is, and they're frustrated and discouraged. Perhaps that even describes you. God's Word provides us with all the purpose and direction we could ever need. It gives us something to pursue, it gives us something to apply, and it gives us something to share. If you haven't already done so, allow Ezra 7:10 to become a verse that defines your life. Have You Dug a Pit for Others? In order to get out of the pits, you need to make sure you haven't dug any pits for others. Psalms 7:14-16 tells us, Behold, the wicked brings forth iniquity; yes, he conceives trouble and brings forth falsehood. He made a pit and dug it out, and has fallen into the ditch which he made. His trouble shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down on his own crown. Then there is Psalm 9:15-16, The nations have sunk down in the pit which they made; in the net which they hid, their own foot is caught. The LORD is known by the judgment He executes; the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Finally, Psalm 57:6, They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down; they have dug a pit before me; into the midst of it they themselves have fallen. When people dig a pit for somebody else, they end up falling into it themselves. In fact, Proverbs 26:27 says it most directly, Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him. Pretty plain, isn't it? If you are asking God to get you out of a pit, you need to take time to consider if it is a pit of your own construction. If you have done something to get someone else in trouble— even if you think you are justified in doing it because that person has hurt you—you need to repent. Until there is repentance, God will not intervene. God is not going to get you out of your pit while you have a shovel in your hand. "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes," says the LORD of hosts. All the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful land," says the LORD of hosts. Malachi 3:10-12 Blessed nations are giving nations. The tithe is the first tenth of one’s income. The “firstfruits” principle is all through the Bible, from Abel and his gift of the first and best of his harvest, to God’s command to the Promised Land-bound Hebrews to set apart their firstborn son, to the Proverbs admonition to honor the Lord with the firstfruits. The “storehouse” in Malachi’s day was the Temple. Now, it is the local church. When God’s people honor Him with firstfruits giving, there is a radiating effect outward to society itself, resulting in generosity and blessing.
  32. 32. Christian Living The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord– Isaiah 29:19 Meekness is not a momentary decision, but a way of life. Someone has described biblical meekness as “putting the bit in your own mouth and handing the reigns over to God.” It is an humble attention, and receptivity, to the will of God. The meek are often mistaken in our day as being weak. But meekness is actually great strength, under control — God’s control. Great faith, great commitment, and great determination are required on a daily basis to live a meek life before God. When He requires sacrifice, meekness trusts completely and gives willingly. When He demands obedience, meekness constrains selfish desires, crucifies personal ambition, and performs joyfully the good will of God. It is for this reason that the joy of the meek is continually increasing. Their pleasure is not found in personal circumstances; their happiness is not derived from fleeting popularity; their fulfillment does not come from public success. The meek find their joy in the Lord. Therefore, the more they have of Him, the more they experience of Him, the more they know of Him, the more their joy is increased. And the more their joy is increased, the more they desire to plant their joy in the Lord and not in this world. What about you? Have you found the dependable and lasting and ever-increasing joy that comes from a life of complete submission to our good and wise and glorious God? Is it any wonder that around 125 AD, the Greek scholar Aristides marveled at the enormous hope Christians had, even in death? He wrote: "When a member of the Christians passes from this world, they rejoice and offer thanks to God. They escort the body to burial with songs and thanksgiving, as if he were setting out from one place to another place nearby." Do you have this hope in God that these early Christians had? Their faith was real, active— touching every part of their lives, even the most sorrowful moments—even at death. Don Wyrtzen so beautifully wrote this truth into his song, "Finally Home": Just think of stepping on shore, and finding it heaven; Of holding a hand and finding it God's; Of breathing new air and finding it celestial; Of waking up in glory . . . and finding it home! This is wonderful poetry but an even greater reminder—heaven is not some figment of your imagination; it is real, and far beyond your wildest dreams! Do you have unanswered questions, fears, or doubts about eternity? If so, be encouraged. The truth is, we all do. But there will come a day when all our questions will have answers, and all our fears will be put to rest—not to mention that all our tears will be wiped away! It will not happen here. It will happen there . . . when we are finally home. But until we reach that glorious land, remember that Jesus Christ is completely trustworthy and faithful, regardless of what you see happening around you. He will stay true to His Word. You can bet your life . . . and your death on it! Prayer Point: Thank the Lord for holding you firmly in His hands. Thank Him that your security
  33. 33. isn't based on your strength or commitment, but on Him. Praise Him that He will never violate that commitment nor fail in His strong promise to take you home! Enduring Grace @ Work "Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people." -Ephesians 6:7 "Say to those with fearful hearts, 'Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.'" -Isaiah 35:4 A couple of my friends recently shared their greatest workplace challenges with me over coffee. Among their laments were: A boss with a double-mind; evil co-workers; multiple, drastic process changes and unattainable performance expectations. Though these friends prayed together at work, they felt they had seen little improvement. What’s more, they had grown weary in well-doing. They wanted to know where to go from where they were. Here are the results of that conversation that may help you, should you find yourself in difficult circumstances at work: God’s Purpose: Why Am I Here?– Yes, your job is for more than a paycheck! Your job is your divine assignment. It is your mission field. It is all divinely purposed! And it is seasonal! You are there so that God can do a work in you, through you and for you (on your behalf) simultaneously. He will use the people, the location and the daily circumstances to accomplish His will accordingly, even—and especially if—you find yourself in a job that you would’ve never selected for yourself. God will use it all! Are you willing to journey through it with Him and yield to His way of doing His work in, through and for you? God’s Strategy: What Do I Do?– Maintain a servant’s attitude, and do the job you were hired to do with excellence. Watch your mouth, your attitude and your actions. Affirm to God that you need His help. Ask God what He wants you to see, know and do amid your circumstances. Ask God to enable you to receive all He has for you and nothing that is not of Him. Ask God to reveal to you His vision, strategy, reinforcement, divine appointments and divine connections. Ask God for a Christian prayer partner or group. Ask God to lead you to the sources and resources that have what you need. All along the way, ask God to reveal His understanding and solutions to problems. Your journey will contain incremental successes. All of it will challenge you in the area of character building to prepare you for your next promotion. God knows and sees all things, and He will get you where He wants you to be and help you do what He wants you to do if you are willing to hearken. Pray for your boss, your co-workers and the company as the Holy Spirit leads. You will endure the journey and can be promoted faster (internally or externally) by processing through every challenge God’s way. Remember, God takes us from holiness to holiness, from glory to glory. Sometimes, He accomplishes this work quickly by taking us through the furnace. In so doing, He redeems lost time. God can do much in these accelerated times in which we work and live. He is the ultimate multitasker. So count it all good, and journey through God’s way, so you don’t have to perpetually cycle through rounds of testing. Guard Your Heart | Don Your Armor (Eph. 6:11-18) – Your heart belongs to God, so be careful with human connections, especially in your workplace. Not everyone will have your back or even like you. Some may feel envious or competitive towards you. Many will have different beliefs than yours. Kindness and prayer are strengths, but not everyone will be interested in what your heart has to offer. Apply wisdom. If people are not willing to receive what you are willing to give, there can

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