Take today’s next step: Need help holding on? Tell us how we can pray for you.
“Blessed are those who don’t doubt me.” (Matthew 11:6, The Living Bible)
Do you ever feel like God has not lived up to your expectation in some particular circumstance of your life? Perhaps you have believed… yet nothing has happened. When you feel confused and wonder if God has let you down, you have a choice to make.
You can choose to be offended at God’s seeming silence and disinterest and allow doubt to slip into your heart. Or you can choose to believe God loves you with a lavish love and has your best interest at heart… even when things seem to make no sense to you.
Jesus addressed this very thing. In His words to John the Baptist He says what our hearts still need to hear today…
“Blessed are those who don’t doubt me.” (Matthew 11:6 The Living Bible)
Times come to all of us when God’s activity in our lives seems to make no sense. We wonder at the circumstances we find ourselves in and we may sometimes even feel abandoned by God. We could easily slip into doubting our great God.
Yet God tells us…
If your heart is heavy today because you feel confused about what God is doing in your life, know that you have a choice to make.
You can let doubt in Him slip in and permeate your soul… or you can let these truths penetrate your heart. Each will bring it’s own result. Choose carefully.
Jesus promises you will be blessed when you choose to keep trusting Him even when it seems to make no sense. Ask Him to help you keep your fragile faith intact and leave your hand in His. He will be true to His word and you will be blessed as you trust our faithful God.
Father God, Today I call out and ask You to increase my faith. It feels tattered and worn in the confusion of my present circumstance. Help Your truths to penetrate my heart and my mind. Help me as I choose to trust You, my faithful God. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
It’s not like God said it in code! Exodus 20 clearly says: “I am the Lord your God…you shall have no other gods before me”. However, the people of Israel still seemed to miss the mark. King Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, stood in fierce opposition by killing the Lord’s prophets and worshiping false gods like Baal and Ashera. Here in the Kishon Valley, God makes the penalty for idolatry crystal clear.
God describes Himself as a jealous God (Exodus 20:5). He asks for our complete and unhindered loyalty to Him.
Question: Take a few moments and review the idols that you may have in life. What do you put before your relationship with God, and how can you surrender those to God today?
The district of Caesarea Philippi is laden with temples and monuments dedicated to various gods that people worshipped. It is in this very place, where Jesus asked his disciples: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Amidst the societal confusion about which deity is the true God, Jesus allowed his followers to take a step back and freely choose Him.
Our society isn’t much different from Caesarea Philippi. Monuments and temples are still just as rampant as they were back then. Not only that, we have also started to make gods out things like our work, our material possessions, and our societal position.
Question: If Jesus asked you, “Who do you say that I am?”, what would your response be?
Take today’s next step: Be all in for Jesus. Take the 35 Day Challenge.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
“Have not I commanded you? Be strong, vigorous, and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
Wanted: Pastor for small church; mostly older people but willing to reach out to younger people. No desire for change in worship or preaching style.
Do you catch the incongruity? The basic premise is “we want to follow Jesus but we want to do it our way.” We have a startling example of that in the followers of Jesus. When He began to reveal to His disciples that soon He would go through an unimaginable ordeal of suffering and death, Peter—who only moments before had given a strong statement of faith—freely offered his opinion.
“Peter took Him by the hand and led Him aside and then facing Him began to rebuke Him.” (Mark 8:32, Amplified Bible). In essence Peter said, “Jesus, I’m sure you have the program all wrong. I know you’re the Messiah and have a great plan for saving the world, but what you’ve just described is too radical.”
Another time after Jesus preached a sermon in one of his favorite synagogues about the reality of discipleship, the Bible records that, “many of His disciples, when they heard this said, ‘This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?’” (John 6:60, NASB) After this, many of His disciples returned to their old associations and no longer accompanied Him.
Following hard after Jesus means committing to a life where change is the norm and not the exception. Joshua faced a formidable future. The Israelites’ much-loved Moses was gone. What lay ahead was uncertain. But Joshua heard God’s command, obeyed and in all the changes that would come, he found God able and willing to be with him. Stepping into change is rarely comfortable, but God promises to go with us and provide all we need in its midst.
Father, thank you that while You remain the same, you often lead us into change. Keep us focused on You in order to enjoy and benefit from all life’s changes. Amen
Question: What is it about change that you most fear? How have you seen God’s hand in past changes?
Elijah has had enough: the Israelites need to get off the fence. Either the Lord is God, or Baal is (1 Kings 18:21). In order to answer this question, Elijah fearlessly challenged the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. With unshakeable faith, Elijah proves God’s true divinity in a seemingly impossible feat.
As followers of Christ, we must always be prepared to give a reason for our faith (1 Peter 3:15); sometimes, however, we feel unequipped to do that on our own.
Question: Would you, like Elijah, stand fearlessly in front of hundreds of people and expect God to show up?
Take today’s next step: 3 Ways to rest in God.
“Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:15-16a, NLT)
The man scratched his head and asked, “Pastor? How many hymnals should I put out this week?”
With a shrug of his shoulders, the pastor sighed, “Only God knows. It is June, you know. Put out the normal amount, and pray for good attendance.”
Does this sound like your church? The Sunday school takes a break; the choir may, as well. In fact, it seems that most of the congregation do! Sure, we all need a vacation; but, do we need time off from Jesus?
If you are going out of town on vacation, do an internet search for churches along your route. It may be a refreshing experience to worship in a new place with different people. You could find spiritual renewal in the midst of a body of believers with whom you have never lifted your hands in praise. In addition, half of the congregation you visit may be away, and their offering plate might need a boost.
Take your Bible along with that paperback or Kindle download. Choose a book from the Scriptures you have not read in awhile, and write down the messages you find that speak to your heart. Discuss these with your family over your evening meals. You may also want to consider bringing some reading material by Christian authors with godly themes.
As you drive, spend some time listening to an audio tape of the Bible, or play a Bible trivia game. Yes, there is an app for that! Your local Christian bookstore may have godly games you can play.
Whether or not you have your children or grandchildren with you, consider touring historic places of worship. Begin each day with prayer, and give thanks together at meals. Praise God for safe travel, for the day’s adventures, and for the beauty of His creation. Of course, end each night communing with the Lord. After all, He is all around you.
“Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7-10, ESV)
God promises to never leave you nor forsake you. So this vacation, don’t leave Him at home. Pack Him up, take Him with you, and discover new ways to praise His holy name.
Dear Lord, You are always watchful, always present to us. May we never put You on the back shelf when we plan our vacations; instead, let us include You in our plans. May we seek You in new experiences and in new faces. Teach us fresh things about Your creation and Your love. At the end of our time away, give us warm memories of the lessons we have learned with You. We pray these things in Your holy and mighty name, Lord Jesus, Amen.
Questions: How will you include God on your vacation? Why is it so important not to leave Him out of any of your plans? Do you have a testimony to share of how the Lord has powerfully impacted a past vacation?
Take today’s next step: Make a total commitment to serving God.
“So [God] said he would destroy them—had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him to keep his wrath from destroying them.” (Psalm 106:23)
Two stories, both told in Psalm 106, explain how Moses, followed by Phinehas, stood in the breach to keep God from completely destroying His people. Here is the account of Moses:
“At Horeb they made a calf and worshiped an idol cast from metal. They exchanged their Glory for an image of a bull, which eats grass. So he said he would destroy them—had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him to keep his wrath from destroying them.” (Psalm 106:19-20, 23)
Now, let’s read how Phineas stood in the gap for his people:
“They yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor and ate sacrifices offered to lifeless gods; they provoked the LORD to anger by their wicked deeds, and a plague broke out among them. But Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was checked.” (Psalm 106:28-30)
Moses and Phinehas did not negotiate or try to explain away their fellow Israelites’ sin. They intervened by completely obeying God. By acknowledging the sin of the people and bringing it to an end, their actions proved they served God alone.
These are not easy stories to read. The full accounts, which can be found in Exodus 32 and Numbers 25 respectively, demonstrate God’s holiness.
Moses and Phinehas were raised up as examples, not only for their time, but for ours, as well. Psalm 106 continues on to say, “This was credited to [Phinehas] as righteousness for endless generations to come.” (v. 31)
We stand in the breach when we live holy lives. By refusing to go along with sin among God’s people, and by serving God alone, we stand as beacons – warning lights to others who need to know that our Lord is a God of justice who cannot and will not ignore our transgressions, but who rewards lives of righteousness in Him.
Holiness matters. Our words and actions declare Him Whom we serve. Will we, like Moses and Phinehas, serve God alone?
Holy and righteous God, I want to serve You completely. Show me how to live a holy life. I ask this in Your mighty name, Lord Jesus my Savior, Amen.
Questions: Why is it so important that we live holy lives? How do our actions prove to God that we serve Him alone?
Take today’s next step: Be filled with the Holy Spirit.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
We sat around our backyard fire pit. As we watched the stars come out we talked about how to walk our faith out on a day-to-day basis. We talked about what the Bible had to say about business ethics; raising kids; dealing with church politics or prickly people. At the end of many of our discussions our friend, Jerry would say, “It really all comes down to abiding.”
I still keep coming back to that. It truly is the answer to walking out our Christian faith where the rubber meets the road… and it affects our praying.
John 15 describes so well the picture of what abiding is. The picture is clear of the branch attached to the vine and producing much sweet fruit.
Jesus explains the picture and reminds us that He is the vine and we are the branches. It is only when the power of the Holy Spirit flows through us that we are able to touch lives with His love. A life changed by Jesus’ love is the fruit produced. Apart from Him we are able to do nothing of any eternal value.
Then Jesus goes on to say something truly amazing…
“If you remain (abide) in me and my words remain (abide) in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:7 & 8)
The result is clear. My abiding in Christ will even affect my prayers. In the original Greek this word “abide” means to “continue to be present”.
This, in turn, will make my God renowned. It will show the world around me who my God is and others will be drawn to Him.
When God’s Word is a continuing presence in my life, guiding my thoughts, actions and attitudes, then my prayers will be different from the self centered requests I often beg God for. The results will be for eternity.
Our fulfillment in this life comes as we bear fruit for God’s kingdom. Keep God’s Word central in your heart and in your life. Let His words “continue to be present” as you walk out your faith in front of a world that needs to know who our God is!
Father God, Fan the desire in my heart to read Your Word. Make it clear to me so it will guide my thoughts and my actions. Reveal to me the treasures in Your Word. Cause me to pursue it more than silver or gold or any other thing, for Your words are life to my soul. In Jesus’ strong name I pray, Amen.
Take today’s next step: Let God take a good look at you.
“Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” (Galatians 3:2-4, NLT)
I’m one of the “good girls.” Of course I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve never done anything really bad.
I grew up in a good home; I went to Christian schools; and, I was never interested in drugs, drinking, sex, or rock-n-roll. For the most part, I obeyed my parents and did what I was told. As I said, I was a “good girl.”
I’ve never been arrested and I haven’t received a speeding ticket, which doesn’t mean I didn’t deserve one. When people have been ill, I’ve taken them meals, and I’ve sung songs to the elderly in nursing homes. In addition, I’ve worked at a camp for the developmentally disabled, given money to missions, and shared what I’ve had with the poor – when it was convenient to do so. I’ve also led Bible studies, faithfully attended church, and strived to be “good” in every way.
However, my goodness left a bitter taste in the mouth of God. For He was well-aware of the cancer of secret sins buried deep in my heart: hidden thoughts, as well as feelings and attitudes of pride, arrogance, bitterness, jealousy, greed, lust, and, condemnation.
“We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” (Isaiah 64:6, NLT)
How easy I found it to justify my own thoughts and behaviors as I compared them to those of my friends and their indiscretions. How quick I was to focus on their glaring flaws, while ignoring the sickness growing inside of me.
“Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs – beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.” (Matthew 23:27b-c, NLT)
Does God care about a “good girl” like me? Yes! One day His grace reached out to me:
“But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.” (Isaiah 53.5-6, NLT)
Grace brought my secret sins out into the light. Grace sent me to my knees, overwhelming me with sorrow in regard to my evil heart and arrogant spirit. Then, grace lifted me up and dusted me off, wiping the tears from my eyes. Grace forgave me and set me free from my “goodness” – the undeserved, lavish, amazing grace of God!
Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people – free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free either. Abundantly free!” (Ephesians 1:7-8, The Message)
Do you need His Grace today? Whether you see yourself as “good” or “bad,” God’s grace is for you.
Lord Jesus, I come before You with thanksgiving and praise for the amazing gift of Your grace in my life. I invite You to examine my heart on a daily basis so that You can make me continually aware of any and all sin that lies therein and be quick to convict me to repent of them through the power of Your indwelling Holy Spirit. Please grant that I may see myself through Your eyes, that I may not be deceived into thinking that I can ever be good enough in my own strength or by my own works. May I always walk in Your light and by Your power, and may I never again rely on my own understanding. I ask these things in Your holy and mighty name, Lord Jesus, Amen.
Questions: What does grace mean to you? How has God’s grace impacted your life? How can you ensure that you are doing “good works” for the glory of God, rather than to build yourself up in your own eyes?
Jesus is fully human AND fully Divine. That is a concept easier said than understood. We’re only human, after all. It’s certainly no surprise that Christ’s followers needed a few more visual aids to get the point. Here at Mt. Tabor, Christ reveals his divinity to Peter, James and John.
When Peter, James and John fearfully fell to ground after seeing Christ transfigured, Jesus reached out to them and touched them, urging them to not be afraid.
Question: How have you experienced Christ’s Divine touch in your life?
What do you fear, and why? Is it holding you back from realizing your full potential?>Watch